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— The smile never left Billie Doublehead’s face as she wrapped boxes during the Operation Christmas Child Community Shoebox party,held Saturday at the First United Methodist Church in Siloam Springs.

“I just love doing this,” she said.

“You just get excited to help kids have a good Christmas.”

Doubletree was just one of numerous volunteers who helped wrapand fill 353 shoeboxes during the two-hour event.

This is the sixth year for the community party. Organizer Lane McLoud said this was the most boxes filled during a single event.

“This year, we had the most donationsfrom the community, including items to pack into the boxes and money to help pay for the shipment charges,” McLoud said. “It’s exciting to see how this effort has grown in the past few years. Hopefully, next year’s party will be even bigger.”

Many volunteers, including members of the men’s basketball team at John Brown University, helped staff carnival games, which let children win prizes, like crayons, pencils and candy. Those items were thenused to fill many of the shoeboxes.

“I thought this was a neat opportunity, with the holidays coming up, to get together with the players and get out to do some community work,” explained Clark Sheehy, headbasketball coach at JBU.

“We’ve talked about what Operation Christmas Child does and how they are literally spreading the gospel around the world.”

Sheehy said team members were excited to help with the project. He hoped his players walked away from the event knowing how much fun they can have while serving others.

Making it personal

This was Andrea Hair’s third community shoebox party. The junior at JBU became involved with OCC in high school, when members of her home church traveled to a regional processing center in Minneapolis, Minn.

“This is a really cool program because you get to help kids in completely different countries,” Hair said. “[Samaritan’s Purse is] so committed with sharing the gospelboxes] you are making a difference in kids’ lives for eternity.”

Hair has enjoyed volunteering with OCC so much, she eventually hopes to work for the ministry after graduating from JBU.

Another volunteer, Fran O’Neal, took time to create a note for one of her completed boxes.

O’Neal became involved with the organization approximately 12 years ago.

“It’s fun to bless people who don’t have anything,” O’Neal said.

National Collection Week

In addition to participating in the event at First UMC, Doublehead has spent the last year purchasing items at rummage and clearance sales to fill boxes at her home.

Last week she invited neighborhood children to help bag candy and make cards for approximately 100 boxes in anticipation of this week’sOCC National Collection drive.

Doublehead’s boxes, along with those madeat First UMC, will be taken to the local Operation Christmas Child collection site at Sager Creek Community Church for further processing.

The church, located at 1600 Cheri Whitlock Drive, will collect boxes from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. today through Friday, and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday. For more information, call 524-3577.

Lifestyles, Pages 6 on 11/18/2009

Print Headline: Wrapped with love

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