BLACKFOOT — A year of hardships is not dampening the Christmas spirit of Mandy and Jeffrey Stewart. In fact, they are anticipating a Christmas more fun and meaningful than ever as they strive to build an outdoor igloo and winter playland (of sorts) out of plastic products for their children and the children of their close friends. Mandy has appropriately dubbed the igloo project - "Operation Christmas Igloo."
Due to some health problems and a series of unfortunate circumstance, the Stewarts lost their house and cars and are currently staying in Blackfoot with family.
"We cannot afford the regular material stuff due to some personal hardships," Mandy said. "I was trying to figure out something to give my children, along with other children who are here, something unique and meaningful for Christmas."
The Stewarts, along with four other couples and one single dad in Blackfoot, are working together to build an igloo that they can surprise all of their 10 combined children (ages toddler to teens) with on Christmas morning.
"A lot of us are having a hard time this year and we're thinking outside the box to do something fun and unique for Christmas that will create a special memory," Mandy noted.
Mandy said the children will be away on the night of the 23rd, giving the adults time to build the igloo in time for Christmas morning.
The igloo will be built out of plastic coolers, milk cartons and bowls - filled with colored ice. The families are still in need of more of the plastic items to complete the igloo. Anyone who can is encouraged to drop plastic products off at 1355 Highland in Blackfoot.
Mandy said the igloo is quite a project, adding, "It will be big enough for even adults to play inside."
She said that in spite of the tough year that her family has had, she is "feeling very blessed."
"All we can do is take our situation as a blessing," she said. "The simple fact is, we would not be doing something like this if God wouldn't have brought us to this point in our lives. I am excited and I am thankful."
For more information or to follow the Stewarts' Christmas igloo project, find Operation Christmas Igloo on Facebook.