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Rural Cass groups help set Christmas shoe box record

By packing 449 Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes, 12 rural Cass County groups helped set a new North Dakota shoe box record. In 2008, 15,210 shoe boxes were packed by 270 organizations in North Dakota, a 5% increase over the previous record of 14,502 in 2007.

Packing shoe boxes in the 2008 campaign were St. Maurices Catholic Church and the Norman Lutheran Church of Kindred; Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Page; the First Presbyterian Church and First Lutheran Church of Hunter; the Elementary School and Canaan Moravian Church of Davenport; the United Methodist Church of Arthur, the Goshen Moravian Church of Durbin, Sunshine Center of Casselton, the Presbyterian Church of Grandin and the Horace Lutheran Church. Another 50 shoe boxes were packed by individuals, bringing the rural Cass total to 499.

Three West Fargo churches packed 385 shoe boxes and 14 individuals added another 34, making a grand total for West Fargo of 419. West Fargo churches participating included Faith Lutheran, Shiloh Evangelical Free and Red River Reformed.

Twenty-seven organizations in Fargo packed 2,794; 86 individuals packed another 291, and 14 shoe boxes were unidentified, making a grand total for Fargo of 3,099. The total for Cass County was 4017.

After processing in the Minneapolis regional center, the 15,210 North Dakota shoe boxes were delivered to children in Abkhazia, Belize, Cameroon, Kenya, Mauritius, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Republic of Conga, Rwanda, St. Vincent and Trinidad by Samaritan's Purse, an international charitable and evangelical organization headed by Dr. Franklin Graham.

The boxes were filled with school supplies, hygiene items, hard candy, T-shirts, socks, balls, sunglasses, caps, small toys and other items children can use and enjoy. Boxes were designated for boys and girls in three age categories between two and 14 years.

Packers in 2008 around North Dakota included churches of all Christian denominations, church youth and women's groups, a funeral home, an H & R Block office, a Best Buy, a Wal-Mart, 4-H Clubs, business clubs, schools and school organizations, college organizations, an FCC Club, a Red Hat group and several MOPS groups.

"The caring nature of North Dakotans is demonstrated in the steady growth of Operation Christmas Child," noted North Dakota Volunteer Coordinator Lloyd Omdahl. "We have many faithful churches and organizations that pack shoe boxes every year and we also have new churches and organizations joining the effort."

"Another Operation Christmas Child campaign will be held in November, 2009," Omdahl said. "We hope that more churches and organizations will join the effort to bring a little happiness into the dreary lives of needy children around the world."

Nationally, the 2008 campaign is expected to collect 8,000,000 shoe boxes for distribution in 90 countries.