Geneseo teen's shoebox gifts spreading joy around the world

Posted Online: Oct. 05, 2012, 10:00 am
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By Claudia Loucks,
GENESEO — It could be called a "Sewing Bee-atitude."

Kari DeBrock has organized a sewing bee for Tuesday, Oct. 16, to help her teenage daughter, Molly DeBrock, prepare for another Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Ministry campaign.

The bee will be from 9 a.m. to noon at Grace United Methodist Church, 318 North Center St., Geneseo.

Volunteers with sewing machines and rotary cutters are asked to bring them to the church that day, and donations of fabric and batting also are needed.

The bee will help Molly DeBrock provide 36-inch square quilts made of "kid-pleasing" fabric colors, which are among the items she packs into shoebox gifts sent to children around the world as part of an Operation Christmas Child outreach of Samaritan Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham, oldest son of Dr. Billy Graham.

The non-profit organization specializes in meeting the critical needs of victims of war, poverty, disease and natural disaster, in order to demonstrate God's love and share the Gospel. Operation Christmas Child makes it possible for millions of children to experience God's love through shoeboxes filled with small gifts.

Miss DeBrock, the daughter of Brian and Mrs. DeBrock, has been involved in Operation Christmas Child for the last four years.

She learned about the "shoebox ministry," from her aunt, Kelly Bazan, who lives in Des Moines, Iowa; and said she liked the idea to help people by filling shoeboxes with fun items for children.

In 2008, Miss DeBrock collected five shoeboxes and filled them with small gifts for needy children in other countries. In 2009, she completed 25 shoeboxes. That number grew to 250 shoeboxes in 2010 and 301 last year.

"I planned to stop at 300, and when I finished I had 301," she said.

Her goal this year, as a Geneseo High School junior, is "whatever God determines the number to be," she said. "He determines how many, and I just start filling the boxes."

Anyone interested in helping Miss DeBrock with her mission may call (309) 507-1314.

Donations also may be mailed to Grace United Methodist Church in Geneseo. Gift items should be left at Grace Church by Thursday, Nov. 1.

Miss DeBrock buys all the gifts and pays $7 in shipping costs for each box. She uses much of her own money to buy items for the boxes.

"I am not a big spender so I have money saved up," she said.

Donations from area residents, relatives and her church family at Grace Church help.

Miss DeBrock fills shoeboxes with a variety of small gifts, such as washcloths, soap, books, crayons, coloring books, hats, gloves, tea sets, small stuffed animals, play dough and baby dolls.

She also put together fishing kits and sewing kits for some of the boxes. The fishing and sewing supplies are packed in large empty pill bottles donated by a pharmacy.

No two shoeboxes are ever the same, Miss DeBrock said. "That would be too boring for me and I'd have to change it up."

Shoeboxes are for boys and girls in different age groups — 2- to 4-year-olds, 5- to 9-year-olds, and 10- to 14-year-olds.

"We never know where any of the boxes will end up so it's up to God to deliver them to the right kids," she said. "I read online about a child who had socks in the shoebox he received. He had deformed feet and couldn't wear shoes, and he was praying for socks. He got the socks. The reason the company followed that box was because they thought it boring to receive socks. I added socks in some of my boxes this year.

"That really shows that God is in charge of the entire project," Miss DeBrock said.

"In each of the boxes I put a letter from me, telling them that I filled the box just for them," Miss DeBrock said. "I include my address in case they want to write. I also write a little about myself, like where I live and how old I am, but most of all, I want them to know that Jesus loves them."


Local events heading

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1889 -- 125 years ago: The little South Park Presbyterian chapel celebrated it first Easter decorated with flowers for an afternoon worship service attended by a large congregation.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Wennerberg Chorus of Augustana College has returned from a 2,000-mile tour in the Eastern states and Illinois.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Col. Charles Lindbergh has stated that he is convinced that Germany's air force is equal to the combined sky fleets of her potential European foes.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Small gas motors may be permitted on boats in the lake to be built in Loud Thunder Forest Preserve. The prospect was discussed yesterday at a meeting of the Rock Island County Forest Preserve Commission.
1989 -- 25 years ago: The annual Dispatch/Rock Island Argus Spelling Bee continues to be a family tradition. Ed Lee, an eighth-grader at John Deere Junior High School, Moline, is the 1989 spelling bee champion from among 49 top spellers in Rock Island, Henry and Mercer counties. He advances to the competition in Washington, D.C. Runnerup was Ed's sister, Susan.

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