Local church creates gift boxes for children

Published 9:40 am Tuesday, November 10, 2015

(Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

(Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

While the big day is still more than a month away, the activity center of Dowagiac’s Creekside Church was crammed full of children and adults buzzing with the Yuletide spirit of giving Sunday afternoon.

Members of the local church assisted area children with their bus ministry program in creating around 300 shoebox-sized packages for the
international Operation Christmas Child program that day. These gift boxes will be delivered to needy children all over the globe during the Christmas holiday.

Each child teamed up with an adult that day to create the gift boxes, which were filled with items such as small toys, coloring books, gloves, winter hats and other small trinkets, depending on the age range and gender of the child receiving the box.

“These are things we take for granted, but they are also things that some children don’t ever get a chance to receive,” said Jamie Saylor, the pastor at Creekside Church.

After putting together the gift-filled package, each child went into the chapel area to say a short prayer for the person who will eventually receive the box, before placing on the growing pile of backs lining the back of the activity center wall.

In less than an hour after starting, the wall was nearly completely obscured, covered by the hundreds of green and red colored shoeboxes the kids had placed there.

This is the second year the Dowagiac church has participated in the program, which is organized by Christian international relief organization Samaritan’s Purse. Creekside Church member Everett Smith helps organize the local collection efforts, with he and other members purchasing the small gifts for boxes throughout the year, he said.

“It’s pretty easy,” Smith said. “If you collect stuff for it all year, adding a few things here or there, it really adds up.”

While the boxes themselves will go toward children outside the community, the exercise also helps teach younger churchgoers the joy of giving back during the holidays, Smith said.

“It’s a way of teaching kids to pay it forward —of doing something good for others,” Smith said.