Gordon sends shoe boxes of holiday joy to the world

KINGSTON — With Christmas around the corner, students at Gordon Elementary took on the role of Santa’s helpers, focusing on the spirit of giving for the holiday season.

By the time Dec. 25 arrives, elementary-aged students around the world will receive a boxload of cheer, courtesy of Operation Christmas Child and the help of the Kingston students.

Anne Beth Whited’s second-grade class spearheaded the idea of joining the charity Operation Christmas Child (OCC) for its annual community service activity.

“Our classes are given $100 grants from our PTA to do a community service project,” Whited said. “I came across Operation Christmas Child and thought it would be a really good one to do because it connected with so many things we’ve been doing.”

OCC is a worldwide program that collects and delivers care packages full of gifts to children in need. In 2004, OCC compiled more than seven million shoe boxes worldwide and distributed them to more than 95 countries, according to the group’s Web site.

At Gordon, Whited’s students enhanced the skills they have been practicing through the Passport Club, in which they locate and study the many different countries of the world.

Once Whited’s class got the ball rolling, excitement began to bounce throughout the school, said Gordon PTA member and OCC coordinator Mary Kulish. Seven classes in all, at least one from each grade level, decided to use their PTA-allocated community service funding toward the global charity.

“I like making other kids happy, especially this year, because there have been so many natural disasters and other bad things happening that a lot of children are in need,” said Emily Holt, one of Whited’s students.

Hot Wheels and flashlights, toys, hats and T-shirts, along with school supplies and much more have been piling up at Gordon during the past few weeks in anticipation of OCC’s national collection week of Nov. 14-21, Kulish said.

Thursday morning, Whited’s class started to sort out gifts and create the individual boxes to send to children whom they’ve never seen. Gifts were separated into specific boxes for boys and girls.

But since the kids at Gordon don’t know who, or even where their boxes may be going, Whited’s students added letters and pictures to personalize the packages, no matter where they may end up.

“The students wrote about who they are, what they like to do and things that are important to them,” Whited said. “All of the boxes were labeled ‘Gordon Elementary’ and we put in the school’s address. We’re crossing our fingers that we’ll get a letter back so we can make an even greater connection.”

Collectively, Gordon Elementary students filled 124 boxes with toys and tools for donation. They emulated the epitome of the Christmas spirit which should help brighten the season for children less fortunate, Whited said.

After students had finished packing, Kulish relayed the score of boxes to the Poulsbo OCC collection center at St. Charles Church. From there, the boxes will be moved via truck to California where they will be put on ships and delivered around the world.

“I liked participating in (OCC) because I can help kids who don’t have much,” said second-grader Atlas Kulish. “I can help them get toys and tools for life.”

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