Local charity shares ways to celebrate National Volunteer Week

As Americans all across the country join forces for National Volunteer Week April 23 – 29, there are many opportunities right here in St. Joseph to support a cause, serve the community and make a difference.

One volunteer effort making an impact here in St. Joseph and around the world is Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse. The project collects shoeboxes – filled with school supplies, hygiene items and fun toys – and delivers them to children in need around the world. For many of these children, the gift-filled shoebox is the first gift they have ever received.

“The purpose of Operation Christmas Child is to send a message to children that they are loved and not forgotten,” said Regional Director Nicole Sheldon. “Our volunteers can make an eternal impact on a child in need by giving their time and talents to this simple project.”

John Kinzer heads up the Central Minnesota Area Team Area Team for Operation Christmas Child.

“I find it a privilege to do all I can to inspire my community to get involved in this project,” Kinzer said. “We know for many of these children, this shoebox gift is the only gift they have ever received. There is a lot of hurt and darkness in the world, and these gifts bring light and hope.”

Each year, millions of children in need in more than 100 countries find hope in a simple shoebox gift, many of whom are affected by war, disease, disaster, poverty and famine. In 2016, Operation Christmas Child volunteers made it possible for nearly 11.5-million children to receive a shoebox gift. This year, Operation Christmas Child hopes to send enough gift-filled shoeboxes to reach another 12-million children, a feat unattainable without the more than 9,000 local volunteers who serve year-round across the country.

Last year, St. Joseph volunteers, families and groups paved the way as part of the Central Minnesota Area Team to collect shoebox gifts for another 12,178 children.

As the project gears up for another year of gift collections, Kinzer and Operation Christmas Child are seeking new year-round volunteers. To learn more about the volunteer opportunities available in the St. Joseph area or to apply, visit samaritanspurse.org/volunteerwithOCC or call 612-359-7025.

Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 146-million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 150 countries and territories.

Janelle Von Pinnon

Janelle Von Pinnon

Publisher/CEO at Newsleaders
Von Pinnon has been publishing the St. Joseph Newsleader since 1989, the Sartell-St. Stephen Newsleader since 1995 and the Sauk Rapids-Rice Newsleader since 2015. She graduated from Minnesota State University-Moorhead with degrees in mass communications (with an emphasis on print journalism) and biology. She lives in southeast St. Cloud with her husband and two children.
Janelle Von Pinnon

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