BRISTOL - A shoebox full of little gifts is the equivalent of a Christmas stocking but much easier to ship.
Linda Beaudoin, who teaches a combined class of six third and fourth graders at Immanuel Lutheran School, decided to organize her students to put together such shoeboxes this year. Through the evangelical Christian organization Samaritan’s Purse, the boxes will be sent to needy children in other parts of the world.
“I like to get the kids involved to get them to think about other kids their age. They get to choose a boy or a girl, and the age range. They could choose their own age, but if they wanted to buy little toys for a two year old I let them choose that,” Beaudoin said.
The students used suggestions from the Samaritan’s Purse website to make up their shopping lists for two boxes each, then Beaudoin took them to Walmart Monday to make their purchases.
She had read them a story from the Operation Christmas Child newsletter about a 9-year-old girl who got a purple comb in her shoebox.
“She was brought to the Lord because that purple comb meant so much to her,” Beaudoin said. “I’m from a Christian school so of course we want to bring people to Jesus. The children were just so excited by that they were saying ‘I’ve got to put a purple comb in mine!’”
So almost every one of the boxes got a comb, but they also got a mix of fun and practical items like socks, mittens, tissues, crayons, markers, toys, like a stuffed toy, little musical instruments, playing cards, tissues, glue sticks, etc.
Beaudoin came up with most of the red and green Operation Christmas Child themed boxes, but some of the kids supplied their own actual shoeboxes.
“It costs $9 shipping per box. Almost everybody paid for two boxes and I paid for the rest. You get tracking labels to put on them if you pay online. I have a big map in my classroom so we can pinpoint where the boxes are going,” she said.
They dropped the boxes off Tuesday at Calvary Advent Christian Church, which is one of the few designated drop-off sites in Connecticut. Beaudoin noted they were very fortunate it is located so close to Immanuel Lutheran, just a two-minute drive away.
“The newsletter has all these encouraging stories of boxes going to kids. There was a picture of a donkey cart carrying the shoeboxes, and so the kids got to see that it’s not always trains and planes and automobiles in the rest of the world,” she said.
“It was funny,” she added, “because some of them asked if we should we buy the other children a cell phone cover. I had to tell them they don’t always have cell phone service, they might not even have electricity. What? No electricity? No video games? It’s amazing, they have no concept.”
Beaudoin said she has organized a class box for Operation Christmas Child in the past but this is her first time involved her whole class in organizing individual boxes.
“What I’ve done before is just a few boxes and then I deliver them myself, but this year I took the whole class shopping because this is a great class, there’s a good rapport with everybody,” she said.
For more information about Operation Christmas Child, visit www.samaritanspurse.org .
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.