November 10, 2011 at 8:00 a.m.
The Parmly residents and guests were not packing gifts for grandchildren or great-grandchildren, in fact they are unlikely to ever meet the children that will benefit from their generosity.
They packed more than 100 boxes of goods to be shipped around the world this Christmas season as part of Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan's Purse, Christian relief organization, led by Franklin Graham.
"Our residents enjoy giving locally, statewide and federally, and they also want to give overseas. This is their opportunity," said Parmly Volunteer Coordinator Emily Carlson.
The Parmly Resident Council has voted to support Operation Christmas Child annually through most of the past decade.
"Soap, washcloths, toys and candy," said Resident Council President Pat Videen, in noting some of the items being packed into boxes for distribution to children in poor countries. "This is Christmas for them," she added.
Toys, from modeling clay to stuffed animals were packed along with books, notepads, pens and pencils, sharpeners and erasers, crayons, playing cards, toothbrushes and toothpaste, pants, socks, knit caps and costume jewelry.
Residents remained at stations in the chapel for the hour of time they needed to pack their "shoebox gifts". Some rolled up washrags while others filled plastic bags with candy. As other volunteers circled the many stations, they would place one book, one box of crayons and a stuffed animal among other gifts into one of many clear plastic crates that were available, each to be sealed with a lid before being included in the shipment.
The Resident Council appropriated about $100 of the funds that it raises through bake sales, silent auctions and other projects to support Operation Christmas Child for 2011. The council bought the toothpaste, notepads, some clothes and the plastic crates to go along with the other gifts - all donated - in its shipment. Videen explained that recipient families will re-use the plastic containers to carry water and other necessities.
"This is definitely a way for our residents to give back. Through Operation Christmas Child, they are really able to live the mission that we are Christ's hands working," said Parmly Recreation Director Christy Johnson.
The residents and other volunteers finished packing crates when they ran out of clothes to include with the gifts. Youth at Trinity Lutheran Church, 13025 Newell Ave., Lindstrom, were going to accept the other remaining items for sorting and packing Nov. 9. Participating groups must add $7 per crate or box to cover their postage. Trinity church is accepting donations of money for this cause. Call 257-5129 for more information. Another active churches, First United Methodist Church, 30828 Irene Ave., Lindstrom, is accepting other goods such as small toys, toiletries, school supplies and hard candy to be packed at that church Wednesday, Nov. 16.
All boxes to be packed by county volunteers this season will be added to the more than 85 million that have been sent by the United States and 12 other participating nations since 1993 for distribution in more than 130 countries where there is greater overall need. Participation is growing, as numbers reached nearly 8.2 million boxes and crates for shipment in 2010.
Nov. 14-21 is National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child. For more on the program, visit www.samaritanspurse.org.