Shoebox Packer Overcomes Disability

September 13, 2016 • United States
Operation Christmas Child First Baptist Church Sycamore
Pat Wallace and a group from Illinois have packed Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts for about 10 years. Pat and the group have been encouraged by the efforts of their friend, Carolyn, to crochet washcloths despite her disability.

An Illinois woman crochets hundreds of washcloths for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes

Carolyn McGee left church wondering why she had agreed to bring home the yarn. Although she wanted to help her friends at church who pack Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes, she’d never crocheted a washcloth.

“I thought I should just take the yarn back next Sunday,” said the 72-year-old from Sycamore, Illinois. “I don’t know how to do this.”

Operation Christmas Child First Baptist Church Sycamore

Last year Carolyn crocheted 200 washcloths to pack in Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts.

Carolyn learned to crochet afghans years ago but worried she wouldn’t be able to learn how to crochet something different. Crocheting is tricky for Carolyn because she only has three fingers and a thumb on each hand.

But with a little practice, this determined spirit learned to crochet a washcloth that would fit just right in a shoebox. Last year, she made 200 washcloths.

“She didn’t quit,” said her friend Pat Wallace. “I’m amazed at her. She’s a blessing.”

Pat, 71, began packing shoeboxes about 10 years ago. Pat, Carolyn, and a group of about seven from First Baptist Church Sycamore packed 635 gift-filled shoeboxes last year.

The year before, they packed 500 shoeboxes, and they’ve already set their sights on surpassing 635 this year.

Operation Christmas Child First Baptist Church Sycamore

Washcloths and other hygiene items are great gifts for children to receive in a shoebox.

“I have a heart for the children [who receive the shoeboxes],” Pat said. “Each year we try to pack a few more.”

Year-round Packers

Hygiene items such as washcloths are special gifts for children to receive in shoeboxes. Shoebox recipients have often never had their own washcloths or other hygiene items like combs, soap, and toothbrushes, which Pat and Carolyn’s group also pack.

Even though it sometimes takes Carolyn half a day or more to make a small washcloth, she is glad to contribute to the shoebox gifts.

“I’m doing it for the Lord,” she said. “I just enjoy it.

Carolyn’s crochet skills date back to her childhood.

“I watched my mom and asked her if it was easy. She said, ‘Sometimes yes, sometimes no. You just follow the pattern.’”

Find All You Need to Start Packing Shoeboxes

Carolyn’s dedication to participating in Operation Christmas Child despite her disability has encouraged everyone in the group to work hard and do their part.

“Everyone can do something,” Pat said, explaining that some shop, some pack, and others like Carolyn crochet gifts.

Pat shops year-round for gifts, keeping an eye out for sales and bargains. In addition to washcloths and hygiene items, the group packs toys, school supplies, and clothes.

One of Pat’s favorite items to pack is stuffed animals.

“I put one in every box,” she said. “Every child needs something they can call their own and love.”

This Illinois group has fun shopping and packing shoeboxes, but their greatest joy is knowing that each box they pack becomes an opportunity for evangelism and discipleship.

“We want children to be encouraged to read the Word,” Pat said. “We ask that the shoeboxes be a tool to help start a church and the children would be so thrilled they would encourage their parents to come.”

National Collection Week is November 14-21. Free resources are available to help your church pack shoeboxes. We also have gift suggestions and instructions for how to pack a shoebox.