Wrapping up love
It is better to give than to receive. That's the message of Christmas that a group of confirmation students at King of Kings Lutheran Church have been working on for the last few weeks.
The church's seventh and eighth graders put together and wrapped 261 "Shoeboxes of Love" for the Salvation Army in an event on Dec 15.
"For kids, here in Woodbury especially, it's hard for them to understand that there is poverty not that far away from here," said Heather Hultgren, the confirmation coordinator at King of Kings. "They need to understand that there are people sleeping on the streets, under bridges who don't have a warm meal or a bed to go to."
"Shoeboxes of Love" are personal care packages that include such items as soap, shampoo, deodorant, socks, underwear, toothpaste and toothbrushes.
"This project is providing something that someone truly can use," Hultgren said. "I think there are benefits to donating Christmas gifts, but these are gifts that we really don't think of as gifts.
"For a person who is homeless being able to take a shower at a shelter with a bar of soap is a really big deal, warm things are good at this time of year for people, but this is truly trying to go out and help people who really really need something that are just basic necessities."
A box filled with love
King of Kings has been putting together "Shoeboxes of Love" for several years now, but this is the first year that the confirmation students have gotten involved.
"It's a project that our church has been doing for quite some time, but it's a piece that we plugged into this time," Hultgren said.
Previously, the confirmation students had done a fleece blanket project.
King of Kings as a whole is hoping to donate a total of 400 "Shoeboxes of Love" to the Salvation Army.
"Here at King of Kings, we really look to be the hands and feet of God," said King of Kings parishioner Kristy Beissler, "and this is a tangible way we can do that; sometimes it's the easy things we can do for those less fortunate that make the difference."
Another group at King of Kings who are putting together shoeboxes is the "Moms in Faith" group, which Beissler is the leader of. In addition to the personal care items, the group has also made fleece mittens to add into the boxes.
"It's almost like a little mitten factory going on," Beissler.
So far the group has made 140 mittens.
Beissler said the group, which is comprised of around 15 moms, has a goal of packing 100 boxes.
"These boxes are something they can give out all year," she said.
Looking beyond themselves
Hultgren said the incorporation of a charity project in the confirmation curriculum helps students look beyond themselves and their own worlds.
"It's important because the students need to learn to care about other people and to reach out beyond themselves," she said. I think that's a little hard for them to understand because they haven't experienced it."
Hultgren said "Shoeboxes of Love" is a great charity project for her group of confirmation students because they can physically help, rather than just donating money.
"This project is very tangible and fun," she said.
Hultgren said her students greatly enjoyed helping out with the project.
"For the kids to be able to do this kind of stuff, it makes them feel like they're helping in some way and they're making somebody's day brighter," she said. "They can help by donating their time, donating their resources."
See the Dec.22 print edition of the Woodbury Bulletin for additional photos.