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Local church hosts packing party for charity gift boxes

Megan Frye of the Roberts Congregational United Church of Christ hopes enough donations come pouring in that they can fill 200, even 300, boxes for Operation Christmas Child.

Frye is part of a group at the church collecting toys, school supplies, toiletries, stuffed animals, clothing and other nonperishable items to fill Christmas boxes to send to children through the OCC program.

The group will be packing and wrapping the Christmas boxes at 1 p.m.,Nov. 3, at the church, following the fifth annual chili/hot dish cook-off at 11:30 a.m.

The donations received from those voting on their favorite chili and hot dishes goes toward covering the cost of shipping the gift boxes, which is $7 per box.

Frye said last year they packed 164 boxes, and they have shipped over 800 boxes in the past 10 years.

The OCC program is operated by Samaritan’s Purse, a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization run by Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham.

Frye started the OCC program at the church about 10 years ago with her sixth grade Sunday School class.

“It has grown into a whole church mission project,” Frye said.

Frye joined the Western Wisconsin OCC team as a full-time community relations member last year and has reached out to 4-H clubs, businesses and Lions groups across St. Croix County.

This is the 20th anniversary of OCC and the organization has given more than 1 million boxes to kids worldwide since it began, Frye said.

“Most of the children who receive these shoeboxes have never received a gift in their lives,” Frye said. “I am so passionate about this program I could just burst.”

Donation boxes are located at the Hazel Mackin Community Library in Roberts and the Hammond Community Library. They will be picked up Saturday, Nov. 2.

Donations to fill the boxes or monetary gifts to cover the shipping costs can also be dropped of at the church or by contacting Frye at 651-264-2576.

One of the recipients of an OCC gift box, Vladimir “Ted” Foreman, will speak at an event hosted by the Western Wisconsin OCC team at the Harvestime Outreach Church in Hudson at 7 p.m. Nov. 9.

Foreman received a Christmas box while living at an orphanage in Russia when he was 9 and was later adopted by a Minnesota family at age 13, Frye said.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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