Gift wrapping spree helps needy kids

November 9, 2013 Updated: November 9, 2013 at 8:05 pm
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photo - Jordan McCollum (left) and her grandmother, Julia McCollum (right) pick out a small stuffed animal to go in a shoebox with other Christmas presents. They were participating in Operation Christmas Child at Calvary Worship Center on Saturday, November 9, 2013. Participants filled a box with gifts, wrapped them and put a note inside to go to children around the world. (The Gazette/Jerilee Bennett)
Jordan McCollum (left) and her grandmother, Julia McCollum (right) pick out a small stuffed animal to go in a shoebox with other Christmas presents. They were participating in Operation Christmas Child at Calvary Worship Center on Saturday, November 9, 2013. Participants filled a box with gifts, wrapped them and put a note inside to go to children around the world. (The Gazette/Jerilee Bennett) 

Most people haven't bought their Thanksgiving turkey yet, but scores of volunteers were knee-deep in Christmas wrapping paper at a Saturday event in the Pleasant Valley neighborhood in western Colorado Springs.

The shoe-box sized packages wrapped at Calvary Worship Center off King Street were loaded with school supplies, candy, soap and toys for needy kids in Africa, Mexico and South America.

"It's helpful and stuff," explained 9-year-old Tim Tosci, who was packing gifts like one of Santa's helpers at the event.

It's part of Operation Christmas Child, a program that combines Christmas gifts with a dose of Christian gospel.

Backed by the charity Samaritan's Purse, volunteers hope to gather 28,000 of the gift packages in Colorado Springs this year.

Every one of them must be wrapped in appropriate paper.

"We hope to do close to 1,000 today," said Christmas Child volunteer Melissa Klute as the wrapping hit its full fury.

The gifts in the shoeboxes are modest. Dollar store toys, inexpensive sandals and pencil - stuff that most children in Colorado Springs would be disappointed to find under their tree.

But in the impoverished areas where the gifts are delivered, the small boxes can change lives, organizers said.

"Things we take for granted are priceless for them," said Tim's mom, Jen Tosci.

For people in Colorado Springs, it's the giving that's priceless, said Joan Wesley, an event coordinator at Calvary.

"I really think God does something inside the hearts of the people who pack the boxes," she said.

The charity is making its final push for gift boxes starting Nov. 18 in Colorado Springs and has set up drop-off locations throughout the region. To find a location and learn more about the charity, click here.

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