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Christmas Child Collection Nets Nearly 550 Shoeboxes
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Youth volunteers Lyndee DeRespini, 10, at left, and younger brother Jackson, 8, work to unload a pile of Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes on Saturday, Nov. 20 at The River church along East G Street, a collection center for the program. Marg Jackson/The Leader

Oakdale’s Operation Christmas Child has completed another successful year.

With the local collection site set up at The River Christian Community Church along East G Street in Oakdale from Monday, Nov. 15 through Monday, Nov. 22, coordinator Elizabeth Greenlee said they wrapped it up with a busy weekend and a final day of operation on Monday.

“We had a total of 548 shoeboxes come in this season,” Greenlee said. “Saturday and Sunday are the busiest days, people have more time on the weekends and that’s when the floodgates open.”

Saturday, Nov. 20 saw plenty of people bringing in donations during the 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. hours of operation.

Among them was Marilyn Gaines, who brought about 90 boxes that were filled by congregation members of the Oakdale Family Church of the Nazarene.

“What we do is we have a packing party,” Gaines shared.

Donations are brought in from the congregation and then boxed up for transport to the local collection site.

“On a (recent) Wednesday night we had a packing party, we just all get together and pack them,” Gaines said.

The brightly colored shoeboxes are packed with age-appropriate gifts for both boys and girls, items such as small toys, toiletries, socks, crayons and more.

Greenlee said the boxes collected at The River were first taken to Modesto, then head off to Fullerton in southern California before going on to be distributed across the nation and around the world.

Part of the Samaritan’s Purse outreach, every box is used as a “tool for evangelism and discipleship” at local churches throughout the world. Many donors add in a personalized note, sharing encouraging words of love, hope and care with the young recipient.

Donors could also include funds to cover the cost of the mailing and many choose to ‘follow’ their box, tracking it to see where it ends up.

Among those on hand to help out on Saturday were Greenlee, along with volunteers Brea DeRespini, her children Lyndee and Jackson; Linda Powell and Betty DeRespini.

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Marilyn Gaines, left, brought boxes from the Oakdale Church of the Nazarene, checked in by volunteer Brea DeRespini, as the local collection site at The River church was open for donations over the weekend. Marg Jackson/The Leader