CREATED Nov. 21, 2012
Schools and churches in the Green Bay area are making sure children living in poverty-stricken countries aren't forgotten this Christmas. They're packing thousands of shoe boxes full of gifts to be distributed through Operation Christmas Child.
"They go to over 100 different countries all over the world. They go to the depths of the jungles and slums of India," explained Tiffany Wieber, Green Bay Area Media Relations Coordinator for Operation Christmas Child.
"They have nothing. Many people live on the ground and in shacks. Shacks would be a nice place to live, said Sharon Woodmansee, Relay Coordinator at New Hope Presbyterian Church.
Woodmansee has hand-delivered shoe boxes to poor children in Panama. She has seen first- hand the joy that they bring.
"One little girl, when I handed the box to her and she opened it, she tried to take one toy out and give me the box. These children have never had a gift before," Woodmansee explained. "They appreciate it ,and they know that there's hope and that someone loves them someplace."
Most of the boxes contain age and gender-appropriate toys and treats as well as warm clothing and toiletries such as a toothbrush and toothpaste.
"It's just simple things we take for granted, that these kids it just means the world to them," said Wieber.
The goal for the Green Bay area is to ship 11,000 shoe boxes to 13 different countries this holiday season, but it isn't just children in need who are benefiting from the program.
"I have 3 children. Each year we get a box for each of the children, and they go and pick things out for other people which is an awesome lesson this time of year, said Lisa Dhein.
"It ministers to children abroad, but it also ministers to our own children," added Woodmansee.
Nine-year-old twins Sam and Janny Robertson are filling shoe boxes for the second year in a row. They feel great joy knowing that their gifts from Green Bay will make another child's Christmas brighter thousands of miles away.
"I feel really great that we're helping other people," said Sam. "It doesn't matter who gets the presents. It just matters if it helps them."
This year, Operation Christmas Child is delivering its 100 millionth shoe box, and that special gift just happens to be coming from Wisconsin.