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posted: 11/16/2013 12:25 PM

Operation Christmas Child packing party in St. Charles aims for 150 filled shoe boxes

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  • Jen Katsenios and her 3-year-old son, TJ, of Elgin, left, and Kelsie Hoffmann, 9, of Batavia fill shoe boxes full of goodies at the Operation Christmas Child packing party at St. Mark's Preschool in St. Charles on Saturday. TJ attends the preschool. It was his first time at the event.

       Jen Katsenios and her 3-year-old son, TJ, of Elgin, left, and Kelsie Hoffmann, 9, of Batavia fill shoe boxes full of goodies at the Operation Christmas Child packing party at St. Mark's Preschool in St. Charles on Saturday. TJ attends the preschool. It was his first time at the event.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Bryan Jordan, 4, grabs beads as Gabriel Nicols, 6, reaches for a glue stick near his sister, Ella, 3, while packing shoe boxes at an Operation Christmas Child packing party at St. Mark's Preschool in St. Charles on Saturday. All three children are from St. Charles.

       Bryan Jordan, 4, grabs beads as Gabriel Nicols, 6, reaches for a glue stick near his sister, Ella, 3, while packing shoe boxes at an Operation Christmas Child packing party at St. Mark's Preschool in St. Charles on Saturday. All three children are from St. Charles.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

 
 

Dozens of families filled Fellowship Hall at St. Mark's Preschool in St. Charles on Saturday morning to pack shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. The service project (created by Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham) has been an annual event at the preschool for the past 20 years and was open to everyone in the community to participate. Tables were filled with warm hats and scarves, toys of all kinds, school supplies and personal hygiene items, all of which were in sizes that could easily fit in the boxes. Children could also include a personal note and picture, which told of their own family and where they are from. Families often get thank you letters back from the recipients, which they then share on a bulletin board at the school. An optional $7 donation could also be added to the box to cover its shipping cost.

Kelsie Hoffmann, 9, of Batavia and her parents, Leslie and Patrick, have been a part of the annual service project for the past six years, since she attended the preschool. Kelsie likes doing it "I like knowing that they're gonna go across the world. It's a cool feeling."

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Packing started in late October and the end date is November 22, when students will take the completed boxes to a drop site in West Chicago. Their goal for the day was to have at least 30 boxes packed, and the end goal of having 150 done next week.

"I think it is a great mission project. It's such a simple thing to do and the kids get it, no matter what age. It's just a real hands-on way of teaching the children how to give and how to share," says preschool director Linda Culley.

In addition to the packing, participants were also able to partake of in craft activities, games and a bake sale. For more info, visit stmarksstc.org.

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