By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Community Joins In Operation Christmas Child
happy helpers
Making the trip from San Diego were the Smith brothers, dropping off their donations for Operation Christmas Child. Five-year-old Anthony, left, and little brother Brandon, 2, were here visiting their grandparents and helped out. - photo by DENNIS D. CRUZ/THE LEADER

‘Tis the season.

More than 800 brightly colored shoeboxes were filled to the brim, collected and sent off from Oakdale’s first ever Relay Center as part of the Operation Christmas Child effort through the Samaritan’s Purse program.

Hosted at The River Christian Community Church on East G Street, Elizabeth Greenlee was the local coordinator, with a weeklong collection of shoeboxes culminating on Monday, Nov. 24.

From color crayons to hygiene items, new socks to small toys, the shoeboxes were filled by local residents and delivered to the relay center in Oakdale, then taken to Manteca on Monday afternoon.

Greenlee, a member of the church for almost two years, along with nearly two dozen other volunteers, stepped up and worked multiple shifts over the past week to insure the collection went smoothly.

“I really enjoy helping the kids, and when I approached our pastor with the idea he said to go for it,” shared Greenlee. “We had a great response from many people in the community, which was special.”

A generous 815 shoeboxes were donated at the Oakdale site and joined another 883 boxes collected at the Relay Center in neighboring Escalon for the effort. Each box is labeled and can go to one of three different age groups, with boxes sought for boys and girls in ages 2 to 4, 5 to 9 and 10 to 14.

Suggested donations include age-appropriate small toys and games for younger children, hygiene items, school supplies, handheld electronic games for older kids, and more. Donors could also tuck in a card to the recipient and organizers said the boxes will help make the holidays brighter for children who might not otherwise receive anything.

First year coordinator in Escalon, Pam Elsholz, said donations from Oakdale, Riverbank and Escalon really helped to add to the overall effort.

“We had 18,811 boxes for San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties,” Elsholz said once all the counting was done on Monday evening, with nearly 1,700 of them coming from the tri-city area.

After arriving at the central location in Manteca, the boxes are checked and sent on to Huntington Beach, with a final inspection there followed by delivery across the country and around the world. Local boxes collected will be sent to four different countries. West Coast region boxes for 2014 will be distributed in Nepal, Peru, Indonesia and the Philippines.