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Fri, April 03

Local art students bring joy to needy children
Contributions needed from community for shoebox project

WILLIAMS - Impoverished children around the world will benefit from over 100 shoeboxes hand decorated by Williams Elementary School Art students in the fourth and fifth grades and in the 21st Century program. 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, has collected and distributed over 69 million shoebox gifts to children in over 130 countries since 1993.

The boxes will be decorated with young children in mind, with animal, toy, stars and sports themes. Williams Unified School District art teacher Bonnie Dent will head up the local effort and is requesting donations form the Williams community.

"It is amazing how much can be packed into a shoebox," she said.

Each box will include a T-shirt, flip-flops, soap, washcloth, toothbrush, toothpaste, band-aids, school supplies, hard candy and toys.

"The local health care center has donated band-aids, the Forest Service has donated Smokey the Bear rulers, and the Grand Canyon Railway has provided soap. If you have multiples of something suitable, we will put them to good use," Dent said.

St. Johns Episcopal-Lutheran Church was the first organization in Williams to take part in the project nine years ago. This year, teachers and church members have made donations to help the elementary school students. Also assisting with this year's effort are Delta Kappa Gamma, Williams Lions Club, Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club, U.S. Forest Service, Williams Community Food Bank, Williams Needs an Angel Committee, AA, NA and many community members and businesses.

All donations must be received by Oct. 31. Items can be delivered to the Williams Elementary-Middle School office, St. John's Church or picked up by Dent. To arrange a pick-up call 635-4428, ext. 118 and leave a message.

Boxes will be filled at Walker Hall, located at Second Street and Grant, on Sunday Nov. 1 and Nov. 8 from 4-7 p.m. Community participants are welcome to attend and take part in the effort.

"I believe this is a project that truly makes a difference," said Dent. "I imagine that in parts of the world with a poor image of the U.S., the families of children who receive these hand decorated boxes filled with thoughtful gifts must realize that there are people in this country who truly care."

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