You don’t have to be young to make a difference.
Phoebe Janzen, 71, has been collecting items all year to put into shoeboxes for children around the world.
For the last three months, she and others met weekly in the basement of her home in Marion to fill boxes for Operation Christmas Child, a non-profit managed by Shepherd’s Purse.
Shoeboxes include a gospel message, toys, school supplies, and hygiene items and are sent to children throughout the world.
Janzen has received a lot of help in her endeavor. At least 40 people have become involved. In addition to the 18 people who have been helping her pack boxes, she has received donations of items and money from throughout the county and beyond.
Susan Carlson of Lincolnville brought items from Burdick United Methodist Church because the church didn’t have enough volunteers to make boxes this year.
Kim Sawyer of Hutchinson is involved in packing boxes for her church, and she sent extra items to Janzen.
Lisa Donahue and Kathleen Fish of Hillsboro, Jacquie Funk of Lehigh, Judy Dannenfelser of Florence, and Wendy Mai of Marion are just a few others who have contributed.
A unique item Janzen’s group is contributing this year is a jump rope made by braiding strips of T-shirt material together.
“We all have T-shirts we don’t want anymore, and this is a great way to use them,” Janzen said.
The group will meet at her house from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Nov 15 one last time before the boxes will be delivered Nov. 19 to a collection point at Parkview Mennonite Brethren Church in Hillsboro.
As of the start of this week, her group had packed 370 boxes. Along with 120 boxes packed by youth of Aulne Bible Church and other boxes contributed by individuals, she figures they will be delivering 600 boxes.
Merle Flaming of Flaming Heating and Air Conditioning has offered a trailer to transport them to Hillsboro.
As soon as the shoeboxes are delivered, Janzen will begin picking up items for next year. The end of August is a good time to pick up school supplies, she said, and other items are on sale after holidays.
“It’s not a big thing to do something like this,” she said, “and it gets people involved in making a difference.
“Jesus’ last words in Matthew 28 were to go and make disciples to the ends of the earth. I know I won’t do that, but we can support them. These boxes give children a tangible feeling that somebody loves and cares for them.”