The Operation Christmas Child (#OCC) Shoebox Packing Party was a fantastic success Monday night. On November 4th, 150 people came together at Immanuel Lutheran Church and School and packed 333 boxes. We’d like to thank everyone who donated to the project — including Thrivent Financial, Immanuel members, community members, as well as the volunteers who packed the shoeboxes, American Heritage Girls Troops IL0412 and IL3130, Trail Life USA Troop IL0412, and the ILS 8th grade class who showed up in force.

The evening was an inspiration. This packing party project brought together 150 individuals from across the community and provided an opportunity where they could give of themselves. More importantly, the shoeboxes will be used worldwide by local organizations to help children receive the Good News of the Gospel.

The people – everyone from toddlers to people in their seventies — who volunteered to pack were an inspiration. Parents patiently guided and taught their children that it’s important to be generous. One child was so tiny he had a hard time even carrying the shoebox, but he dutifully carried it. Older children were excited to be able to pack more than one box. One couple with grown children (and plans for the early evening), arrived at 8:00 p.m. because they knew cleanup help was important. They want to make it possible for volunteers with children to go home and get those kids to bed.

Also inspiring of course are the people who donated items all year. Perhaps it’s school supplies during the summer. Or carefully assembled sewing kits. One family purchased tool kits, carefully modifying the packaging so it would be nestled safely in the shoeboxes, along with soap, pencils, etc. One woman took donated fabric and sewed skirts - pretty and practical - for young girls. And so much more.

The shoeboxes are part of Operation Christmas Child, a project that brings joy and hope to children in desperate situations worldwide through gift-filled shoe boxes. These boxes are frequently called GO boxes, Gospel Opportunity, because they allow the love of Jesus to be shared to children who have not previously had the opportunity. Shoeboxes are filled with presents such as school supplies, toothbrushes, combs, personal letters, a toy, and a variety of other small-sized gifts. For many children, their shoebox is the first and only gift they’ll ever receive. The presents and personal letters inside communicate that someone cares for them and gives them an opportunity to experience the love of God. Immanuel Lutheran collects donations for these boxes year-round.

For more information, please contact Trephina Bedell at 847-359-1549 or