WILLIAMS - While it is a program targeting impoverished children around the world, volunteers of all ages are needed to make the Williams Shoebox Project a success. This year's local goal is to fill 200 shoeboxes with items for children ages 2-4, 5-9 and 10-14-year-olds. Each box is designated boy or girl.
The boxes will be sent to children overseas who are suffering from disease, famine, war, terrorism and natural disaster as part of Operation Christmas Child. The project, organized by international organization Samaritan Purse in 1993, collected and distributed shoebox gifts to 8.1 million children in over 40 countries last year.
"This year we have purchased clear, plastic shoeboxes, which provide waterproof storage," said organizer Bonnie Dent. "It is amazing how much can be packed into a shoebox.
St. Johns Episcopal-Lutheran Church was the first organization in Williams to take part in the project 10 years ago. This year, the shoeboxes were decorated by Williams Elementary School's (WES) third, fourth and fifth grade art classes under the direction of Dent. Other organizations and businesses contributing to this year's drive include Delta Kappa Gamma Honor Society, Ms. Torrez' class, WEMS PTSA, Williams Middle School Student Council, Williams Lions Club, Williams Rotary Club, Williams Kiwanis Club, Williams Needs an Angel Committee, Safeway, Family Dollar Store and the U.S. Forest Service.
The project became personal for WES students, according to Dent.
"Each student adopted a box and wrote a letter to their child," she said. "Some included school photos and personally selected items for that child's box."
Volunteers are still needed to pack the shoeboxes during community box-filling parties. Anyone of any age can volunteer to this community project 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Oct. 30 at Walker Hall, Second and Grant.
Donations are still welcome. Items especially needed at this time include small T-shirts (for ages 2-4 and 5-8), hard candy and lollipops, gum, notebooks, small toys, toothbrushes and paste, soap and washcloths, sandwich-size ziplok bags and large rubber bands. Other suggested donations include:
School supplies - pens, pencils and sharpeners, crayons or markers, stamps and inkpad sets, writing pads or paper and coloring and picture books.
Toys - balls, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, jump ropes, small etch-a-sketches, slinkys and children's fast food meal toys.
Hygiene items - combs, chapstick and bandaids.
Please do not include used or damaged items, war-related items such as toy guns, knives or military figures, chocolate or food, out-of-date candy, liquids or lotions, medications or vitamins, breakable items, aerosol cans, fireworks or poppers.
To donate items or to find out how you can help, call Bonnie Dent at 635-2090 or Julia Glaab at 635-1191.