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Shoeboxes Bring Gifts To Brighten Holidays
Working hard at organizing the shoeboxes as part of Operation Christmas Child are, from left, Trina Raley, coordinator Liz Greenlee and Donna Wilson, filling a shift at The River Christian Community, which served as the local collection site. Marg Jackson/The Leader

With donations coming in from Oakdale and the surrounding areas, over 680 shoeboxes were collected locally for children across the country and around the world through Operation Christmas Child. The 682 total boxes gathered at The River Christian Community on East G Street, which served as the collection center in town, will now head off on a journey to Southern California. They will go to Irvine for checking and processing, and from there will start the journey to needy children both in the U.S. and abroad.

“A lot of churches came and dropped them off Monday,” said Collection Site Coordinator Liz Greenlee.

There were 190 boxes that were donated by The River Christian Community church itself, with the other 492 coming in from other service clubs, churches, families and individuals. Last year, the Oakdale site collected 697 so they were off just slightly from that total.

Greenlee said the boxes were picked up late Monday and went to Calvary Chapel in Modesto first, the regional collection point, and from there were to be loaded up for the drive to Irvine.

“My son and I will be making a trip down there as well,” Greenlee said, noting that they will head out the week after Thanksgiving to work for a couple of days helping pack the boxes for shipment.

Her 13-year-old son is using it as part of required community service for his school, but she said he is glad to help.

“He loves this kind of stuff,” she said.

Greenlee, also, is anxious to see the massive effort up close, knowing that the boxes – filled with items including small toys, toiletries, socks, stuffed animals – will help brighten the holidays for youngsters.

Operation Christmas Child is part of Samaritan’s Purse and Greenlee said there were some 11 million boxes collected and distributed last year through the effort.

“That’s a lot of shoeboxes,” she said.

Last week was the National Collection Week, with boxes dropped off at the local center starting Monday, Nov. 14 and wrapping up with the final collection this past Monday, Nov. 21