Christmas shoeboxes from Geneseo to help world's disadvantaged children

Claudia Loucks
For the Republic
Shelly Emerick, left, one of the volunteer coordinators of Operation Christmas Child (OCC); Lynette Wildemuth and Helen Johnston are shown at a recent OCC shoebox wrapping and sorting event. A second shoebox wrapping and sorting session is scheduled from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27, at His Place, the south campus of First United Methodist Church in Geneseo.

With the Christmas season approaching, Operation Christmas Child team members already are working to fulfill their goal of getting OCC shoeboxes to disadvantaged children worldwide.

OCC volunteer Shelly Emerick said, “We have a large number of items to go into the shoeboxes, but there is a need for monetary donations to help pay the $10 cost of shipping each shoebox.”

In previous years, a vendor fair was held in the summer to help with expenses, but it was not possible to schedule the fair this summer.

Emerick said plans are to have the vendor fair next summer in Geneseo City Park.

Profits from the fair are used to help with the shipping expenses of the shoeboxes, making the need for monetary help greater this year to cover those costs.

Donations can be mailed to Emerick at 605 East Pearl St., Geneseo, IL 61254, or dropped at the office of Emerick Pest Control, 361 JF Edwards Dr., Geneseo, IL 61254. Donations also can be left or mailed to First United Methodist Church, 302 North State St., Geneseo, IL 61254.

A shoebox display has been set up in the lobby of CIC Your Digital Print Center & Ellie’s Coffee Café, 465 US-6 Suite 3, Geneseo, located between Napa Auto Parts and Goodwill.

“People can pick up an empty shoebox at that location and return it there once it is packed and we will then get those shoeboxes to the drop-off site,” Emerick said.

Packing a shoebox can be done by anyone and the first step is to decide to pack for a boy or a girl in age groups 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14. It’s best to begin with a “wow” item such as a doll, stuffed animal, deflated soccer ball with a pump, toy cars or trucks. It is important to include school supplies and hygiene items such as a washcloth and soap, toothbrush, but toothpaste is not allowed.

Clothing or shoes also can be included in the shoebox, as well as fun toys, but no food, candy, liquids or jells.

Each shoebox contains a copy of “The Greatest Gift” booklet, a religious-based storybook written in the language of the child receiving the shoebox.

“We cannot use anything glass, liquid, camouflage or war-related, or any type of food,” Emerick added.

Collection Week in this area will be from Nov. 14 through Nov. 21 at Geneseo Evangelical Free Church, with specific times to be announced.

Geneseo Evangelical Free Church has served as the drop-off location for the last 12 years with the efforts of David and Debra Jones, members of Geneseo Evangelical Free Church, who introduced Operation Christmas Child to their church congregation.

Emerick said Geneseo Evangelical Free Church has served as the drop off site longer than any other location in the Quad Cities and surrounding area.

Operation Christmas Child is a natural fit for the Emerick family as her husband, Doug Emerick, and their two children, Courtney (Emerick) Morrison and son, Michael, have made Operation Christmas Child a mission of the entire family for the last several years.

“We have always loved doing this project,” Emerick said. “I have a special place in my heart for kids and I love Christmas…This project puts the two together just perfectly.”

“We never know where any of the shoeboxes will end up, so it is up to God to deliver them to the right kids,” Emerick said. “That really shows that God is in charge of the project.”

Operation Christmas Child is an outreach of Samaritan Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization. The non-profit organization specializes in meeting the critical needs of victims of war, poverty, disease and natural disaster, in order to demonstrate God’s love and share the Gospel.

The ministry, which is in its 29th year, started in the United Kingdom in 1990 as an outreach to Romanian Orphans. OCC began in North America in 1993.