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Hundreds Of Shoeboxes Collected Though Operation Christmas Child
Relay Center Coordinator Pam Elsholz, left, and volunteer Lee McNinch pack up some more shoeboxes for the Operation Christmas Child effort, with donated items covering the tables in front of them. Items packed ranged from stuffed animals to toiletries, small toys to scarves. Over 540 boxes were collected locally. Marg Jackson/The Times

Children across the country and around the world will have a brighter Christmas this year, thanks to the success of Operation Christmas Child in Escalon and the surrounding areas.

Though the final tally of shoeboxes collected locally was down from last year, Escalon Relay Center coordinator Pam Elsholz said there were still over 540 shoeboxes collected at the Escalon Covenant Church Relay Center Site during last week’s National Collection week. Those, along with others from additional Relay sites in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties will eventually make their way south to Irvine for a final check before they are designated for distribution.

The boxes, with specific items sought for boys and girls in a variety of age groups, may stay here in the U.S. or they could go overseas; the sponsoring Samaritan’s Purse organization provides the boxes to many areas in need.

“Sierra 4-H came in and they did 50 boxes for us,” Elsholz said of a major donor this year for the Escalon effort.

The collection kicked off on Monday, Nov. 14 with the final day for drop off this past Monday, Nov. 21.

Elsholz said parishioners from Escalon Covenant brought in their boxes as part of Dedication Sunday on Nov. 20, and the church donations accounted for 180 boxes. Added to the 367 from the community and surrounding area, a total of 547 shoeboxes were gathered at the local site.

And even though the overall collection was down, Elsholz said the effort was still a success.

“It could have been the timing, we just had the election, it seems like the Collection Week got her quicker than last year, it was here before we knew it,” Elsholz admitted. “We’re hoping the other Relay Centers in our area are up so it evens out.”

At the Escalon Relay Center, bulletin boards were covered with photos and letters of thanks from past ‘Shoebox’ deliveries to a number of countries and those packing the shoeboxes for this year were encouraged to add a note or a photo to help personalize the box for the recipient.

Everything from toothbrushes to stuffed animals, small toys, books and toiletries were jam packed in to each box, and each will bring a bit of joy to a child in need.

“Every one of those shoeboxes goes to a child, every one helps,” Elsholz said.