WINTHROP The basement of Victory Baptist Church, 601 Route 11C, was packed Sunday afternoon with church and community members, children and several tables of toys, school supplies, hygiene items, stuffed animals and small plastic boxes.
The church had been collecting the care package items all year in preparation for the packing party and in participation with Operation Christmas Child, a worldwide effort to reach needy children in more than 130 different countries with goodie-filled shoeboxes at Christmastime.
Were talking about children that have nothing, said Miriam K. MacKinnon, Winthrop. Simple little things that we take for granted are everything to them.
Ms. MacKinnon and Shirley E. LaGarry, Winthrop, are members of Victory Baptist Church who organize the packing party each year. This year, their volunteers will be packing 300 boxes for Operation Christmas Child, an international ministry run by a nonprofit Christian relief organization called Samaritans Purse.
Ms. LaGarry said Victory Baptist Church has been involved with Operation Christmas Child since 1995 and has held packing parties for the past five years. Now the church is a relay center to collect items and boxes, which will be sent to a bigger collection center in Plattsburgh.
The churchs packing project kicked off about 12:30 p.m. Sunday, with item stations set up in gender and age categories. Each station had 10 to 20 different types of items to be packed into a plastic box, secured with a lid and two rubber bands.
Each box has a bar code on it, so the boxes can be tracked as they are shipped.
Ms. LaGarry said that, not only do other churches in the area donate boxes, items and money to the program, but there are other relay centers for Operation Christmas Child in Ogdensburg, Massena and Fowler.
A lot of families do this as a project because its a really cool thing for the kids to learn about giving, Ms. MacKinnon said.
Sean A. Perry, an 11-year-old from Brasher Falls, packed more than three boxes with soap, a washcloth, crayons, colored pencils and toys for boys his age around the world.
Its really cool because you get to give things that you get here and give it to other kids in other countries who dont have this stuff, he said. It would be really cool to get one of these boxes.
Ms. LaGarry said that although the church congregation doesnt usually surpass 50 people, its goal for the packages goes up every year.
They stand behind this mission because its something everybody can do, from the smallest child to the oldest person she said. We all know that St. Lawrence County is not a rich county, but last year this county sent out close to 2,200 boxes. Thats amazing for a community like this and really shows the giving heart.
The cost of shipping is $7 per box. Ms. MacKinnon said that although the group is still accepting money donations, the $2,100 goal was reached before Sunday, as people would mark their donations in the offering plate weeks in advance.
I think its so nice that the church is doing this for all the kids, said Savannah M. Adams, an 11-year-old volunteer from Winthrop. Some people live in places you wouldnt even imagine living in, and if you were that little girl opening this up, youd be so happy.
Since it is National Collection week for the program, Victory Baptist Church will be open and accepting donations from 6 to 8 p.m. today through Thursday, 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday and 8 to 10 a.m. Nov. 25.