First United Methodist Church hosts 'packing party'

Carolyn Burgess, Robert Pelayo, and Emma Pelayo. Back Row:  Judy Shirley, Chelsie Abner, Rebecca DeSantis, and Jane DeSantis were part of the "packing party" at First United Methodist Church for Operation Christmas Child.
Staff Writer

Members of First United Methodist Church held a packing party Sunday night to fill shoeboxes with gifts for Franklin Graham's Operation Christmas Child.

"We had more than 50 people participate in the packing party," said Gail Foote, organizer for the party. "This was the first time we had made a party of packing the shoeboxes. We had children from first grade age through adults in their 80s putting gifts in shoeboxes."

Foote said they will bless the boxes during the church's Thanksgiving Family Night Supper next Sunday.

"We've been taking donations for several weeks," Foote said. "We put together more than 100 boxes. We'll take them to Faith Baptist Church, that's the distribution center for West Point and Clay County."

She said it was a project where everyone could be involved. Members bought small toys, coloring books, school supplies and other gifts for the shoeboxes and others donated their time by packing them.

"Because we had so many people participate," Foote said. "It only took us a little less than half an hour to fill all the boxes. We were very well organized."

Foote said everything was laid out and it was like an assembly line of gifts to put in the boxes.

"Everyone had such a good time," Foote said. "We had an even number of boxes and time the same number of gift boxes for both boys and girls."

She said it is the perfect way to make everyone feel like they are a missionary reaching our to share gifts and the Gospel of Jesus Christ with children all around the world.

"We are also doing a backpack ministry," Foote said. "We want to show our children you don't have to travel all over the world to be a missionary, you can be one right here at home."

Debbie Hinshaw, a member of First United Methodist Church, said the church had been participating in the shoebox ministry of Operation Christmas Child for at least 10 years.

"We hope to be able to pack more shoeboxes next year," Foote said. "The packing party went so well, we want to do even more for next year's Operation Christmas Child."