Friday, October 5, 2012

Packing Boxes for Kids

Carol Jarret doesn't store any of her own things on the top shelf of her hall closet. She keeps the shelf open for all the items she buys throughout the year for Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan's Purse. She shops the sales for school supplies, toiletries and toys to put into shoe boxes to send to kids around the world and squirrels them away on her top shelf, filling it so full that she can't cram anything else onto it. And then she schedules a work space and recruits volunteers to put the boxes together.

Carol lives at Warm Beach Senior Community. Her recruits are other residents, staff and friends of Warm Beach. Thirteen people showed up last Thursday and filled over 80 boxes. They would have done more if they hadn't run out of pencil boxes. Once they get more pencil boxes they can pack more shoe boxes. And shoe boxes are one thing they have in abundant supply!

Jim Perron, former Everett police chief, has been volunteering for Operation Christmas Child for seven years, He's the guy who brings in the boxes. Starting on Labor Day weekend the clerks at the nearby Famous Footwear store ask their customers if they'd like to donate their shoebox for OCC. They collect the boxes, and Jim picks them up. Through the Fall he gathers enough boxes to supply both Warm Beach Senior Community and the church next door.
Carol (on scooter) with JoAnn Walston

"Two years ago we filled over 300 boxes," said Carol Jarret.

Operation Christmas Child is an arm of Samaritan's Purse, a ministry serving hurting people around the world through emergency relief, community development, education programs, and care for children in need through providing them food, clothing and shelter. Their shoe box outreach began in 1993. This year they expect to surpass 100 million shoe boxes packed and distributed to children!

This is Carol's fifth year to gather supplies for the boxes and round up a crew to fill them. It's no small feat to pull off such an operation, but it's old hat for Carol. She has given leadership to many projects through her life.

During her years on staff with World Concern, Carol worked as supervisor in the warehouse. Each month they gathered clothing donations, baled them, and packed them into containers to send to SE Asia, Africa and South America. Later, at Twin Rivers Correctional Center, she was one of the World Concern staff who helped set up and oversee a quilting project for the prisoners. In one year alone the inmates made 1500 quilts for World Concern's refugee program.

Most of the volunteers on Thursday were in their 80s and 90s. Each was assigned a specific item to prepare and put into the box. Ninety-five-year-old Marjorie Schroeder slipped bars of soap into ziplock bags and wrapped a colorful washcloth around each one.

The boxes are so much a part of Carol Jarrett's life that she can't help talking about them when she's out. Her dentist and his staff have shown great interest in her project and have contributed tooth brushes and tooth paste over the years. This year her hygienist was so touched when she heard about Operation Christmas Child that she donated her collection of beany babies! She told Carol that her kids have given her beany babies for every possible occasion. She had many on display and dozens more tucked in a cupboard. Now they'll be a source of joy for many children.

Each year Herb Kuhnly, a resident of Warm Beach Senior Community, contributes some of his handmade wooden cars. And Dixie Tremain makes tops using a CD, a marble and a bottle cap. She glues them together and adds some bright colored decoration and ends up with a fun and simple toy to pass on.

 Once the boxes are filled and the stickers are put on, identifying the age and gender of the child, they are stored until the week of November 12, when they'll be delivered to a relay station where churches from all over the area bring their boxes to be packed into larger boxes and sent off to Mukilteo to join still other boxes, and they'll finally be sent to California for distribution. Phew!! 

All over North America there are Carol Jarretts and Jim Perrons who make the work of Operation Christmas Child possible by giving leadership in their church or group. Packing parties are a fun way to prepare boxes. But families and individuals are also making an impact, one box at a time.

Have you got an empty shoe box sitting around? Check out Operation Christmas Child's website and start packing!

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