LAKE TWP.  Packing 500 shoeboxes with goodies for children in two days takes a lot of work and it isn’t easy, but volunteers, members and friends of Greentown United Methodist Church, 3088 State St. NE, recently made the packing a fun weekend to give children in third world countries a Christmas surprise.

The boxes are delivered through the Operation Christmas Child project to children all over the world.

The many volunteers gathered throughout two days to pack the important boxes for children ages 2 to 14. The boxes are tracked and the volunteers do find out where there boxes are delivered and the children that received them.

The downstairs church hall was filled with items to place in the boxes. The boxes were labeled with who they were going to as far as a boy, girl and the age. The volunteers grabbed boxes and began packing them according for that special child - boy, girl and age. 

After the packing was over and the boxes were all completed, they were moved to the sanctuary where the blessing of the boxes took place during the Sunday morning worship service before they were shipped off to their next destination.

Cathy Moore heads up the program and said they have received letters from some of the receipts over the years and the volunteers love reading those. 

The group of volunteer Santa’s have a lot of items for boys and girls to fill the boxes. There was a boy area and a girl area filled with gifts. Besides the donated and store bought items, such as stuffed animals, toys, flip flops, cars, dolls, jewelry, hats, gloves, puzzles, toothbrushes, soap, school supplies and much more. The church volunteers make  items including fishing kits, sewing kits, blankets for baby dolls, tote bags, maracas, bookmarks and more. The boxes also include a Christmas card and a letter telling about the church in Ohio, USA.

"McDonald’s in Hartville was great this year, they donated a bunch of McDonald’s toys," said Moore. The packing days are fun for the volunteers as there are guessing games, pictures, snacks and the camaraderie of doing something that makes a difference in children’s lives.

Every year the shoebox elves increase the amount that they do.

"Last year, we did 250 boxes and this year we are doing 500," said Moore.

Operation Christmas Child brings joy and hope to children in desperate situations around the world through gift-filled shoe boxes and the message of God’s unconditional love. Millions of hurting children who are victims of poverty, natural disaster, war, terrorism and famine receive the shoebox gifts. Moore said that for some of the children, it is the first gift they have ever received.