I like to volunteer and give back when I'm able to in my local community.

Credit: Joyce Vonk My Cascade youth soccer team this year finished 2nd overall!
Credit: Joyce Vonk
My Cascade youth soccer team finished 2nd overall this year!

In that regard, I also like exposing my kids to acts of service and kindness that we can do right here in the Tri-States. Some volunteer opportunities can even have an impact globally. This holiday season, and every year around this time, our local Cornerstone Church in Cascade becomes filled with gifts for giving during our annual shoe box packing party for operation Christmas Child.

But what exactly is operation Christmas Child, and how can you get involved?

Well, it's simple really and it starts with a shoe box. From children to seniors, people pack shoebox gifts each year to bless children in need around the world. And parents often use this project to teach their kids about Jesus and giving during the holiday season.

These gifts not only bless the children that receive them (many who may have never received a Christmas present before), but also their families as many usable items are sent along in addition to toys, writing supplies and utensils, reusable bottles, hygiene products, and clothing. This year a favorite item of mine to pack was a soccer ball for a 10- to 14-year-old boy. It's great to know a child somewhere will be blessed this holiday season with a chance to play a sport, learn and grow, all enabled by my families evening of community involvement. In fact, my entire family and extended church family took time to fill boxes for little boys and girls of all ages. When all was said and done there, were well over 300 shoe box contributions from our small church in Cascade.

If you'd like to join this worthwhile endeavor yourself or with your family visit this website for instructions on how to proceed. There are many drop-off locations across Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin for families that wish to partake. You can even join "packing parties" like the one I attended in Cascade, IA.

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The Samaritan’s Purse project ends Monday, November 20th. Throughout the project’s National Collection Week, area shoebox donors will contribute to the 2023 global goal of reaching 11 million children.

See some of the sights from this year's Packing Party at Cornerstone Church:

Operation Christmas Child Cascade Packing Party 2023

Operation Christmas Child Cornerstone Church of Cascade Packing Party 2023

Gallery Credit: Tom Ehlers

CHECK THEM OUT: 100 years of Christmas toys, gifts and fads

PHOTOS: Cascade's Annual Wing Fest 2022

Cascade's Annual Wing Fest was exactly what a local community get together should be!

Gallery Credit: Tom Ehlers

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