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Charles Citians add 145 boxes to Operation Christmas Child

Charles Citians add 145 boxes to Operation Christmas Child

Volunteers work year-round to donate gifts, school supplies

At the First Baptist Church of Charles City, community members volunteered as agents of change to brighten a young child’s life. With the help of First Baptist volunteers, 145 boxes of school supplies, gifts and everyday necessities joined a statewide total of 59,000 shoeboxes in the international Operation Christmas Child program.

“We send school supplies, toys, and candy to children aged 2 to 14. Most of them go internationally, and many of them go towards children who have never had a gift of any kind,” Rev. Ruth Yeaton of First Baptist said.

The church, which has participated for the last 10 years, serves as a drop-off point for the surrounding area.

From there, about 25 volunteers helped pack donations from church members for a week before taking all the packages over to Waterloo, their last Iowa stop before packages are shipped out internationally.

The church is particular about sending school supplies in their packages, Yeaton said, because a lack of supplies can mean lost opportunity for many children’s education. Pencils, pencil sharpeners, writing paper, erasers –– “we do pretty standardized kits,” she said.

“We had missionaries that came in October, and they have a children’s home (in Honduras). We were asking them, what should go in the boxes?

What’s the most important thing to pack?” Yeaton said.

“They said it really didn’t matter, whatever’s in the box is wonderfully received. If there’s something in the box that isn’t appropriate for them, like if a shirt’s the wrong size, then they share it with someone else.”

The boxes have made their way from Mexico to Russia and are delivered year-round.

Church members also work throughout the year to collect items for the kits, picking up school supplies in August or clothing during sales.

“We really started in September, sending letters to surrounding churches letting them know we’re a drop-off site,” Yeaton said. “The packing week (in November) is Monday to Monday, and then right after that we truck it all down to Waterloo that same day.”

Although the holiday season brings a wide focus on giving to others, Yeaton said, people should realize the same need exists year-round.

“There’s lots of emphasis on giving gifts. I think we would say our larger purpose is to increase that generosity throughout the year…what do I have that I can share, whether it’s my time or my money?”

Yeaton said. “Most churches were founded around that mission.”

By Kate Hayden [email protected]

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