Tricounty News

Christmas in July

As most people in Minnesota are busily grilling, going to the lake, attending local festivities, and gathering with friends; tenants and owners at Your Haven Campground are preparing for the annual Christmas in July event. Not only will Santa and Mrs. Claus be making an appearance, but the weekend marks the Operation Christmas Child kick-off event. Operation Christmas Child is a non profit organization where participants lovingly pack shoebox gifts that are distributed to over 100 counties world-wide. The campground collects donations consisting of school supplies, hygienic items, T-shirts, caps, shoes, toys, etc. Over Labor Day weekend, the tenants gather together to pack and organize the shoeboxes. These are then stored until National Collection week that occurs every November. The journey just begins! Eventually the box ends in the hands of a child that lives in a war, poverty, and/or natural disaster-stricken country. The child not only hears that someone cares enough to send them items to meet a basic need, but that there is a heavenly Father that loves them and will never leave them. "I remember thinking 'wow, someone really cares about me to send me this gift. I would always think about my gift when I felt hopeless,'" said a young man who was in an orphanage in Russia when he received his shoebox. This young man now lives in Chicago after being adopted by a family in Annandale at the

age of 12. The impact of the shoebox starts with those that are willing to sacrifice a little to bring a smile to a hurting and needy child.

Operation Christmas Child is a part of Samaritan's Purse ministry, headed by Franklin Graham. National collection week occurs every year where local drop-off locations collect shoeboxes that are packed by individuals, scout groups, businesses, organizations, and churches. "The simplicity of this project and the huge impact that the shoeboxes make in the lives of children is very heart-warming. I don't see boxes, I see a child's face with each gift," a local volunteer said. For more information on this project or to get involved, see www.samaritans, or call Trude

Schlangen at (612) 802-0349.