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Children's Home residents reach out to needy kids (Dec. 21, 2004)

Children's Home residents reach out to needy kids (Dec. 21, 2004)

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Children's Home residents reach out to needy kids

Dec. 21, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
407-897-1140     Orlando  {0210}

An e-Review Feature
By Ronald K. Owen**

ENTERPRISE  — When the elementary school girls in Shannon Cottage heard about "Operation Christmas Child" on a local Christian radio station, they knew what they had to do.

The ministry is a division of Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse Project and delivers shoeboxes filled with gifts to needy children all over the world. The girls wanted to a part of that ministry, and they wanted all their friends to join them in the project.

ENTERPRISE — The Florida United Methodist Children's Home is located here and houses 80 children with special needs. The kids raised enough funds to fill 123 shoeboxes with gifts for needy children around the world. Photo courtesy of Stephen Hartsfield, Photo #04-0122.
Many schools and churches support "Operation Christmas Child," but what makes the participation of the children in Shannon Cottage different is that the girls and their friends are all residents of the Florida United Methodist Children's Home in Enterprise. The Children's Home cares for 80 children in residence and serves children and families with special needs.

Although they didn't have any extra money for the gifts, the children had the heart, love and determination to find a way to raise the money they needed, according to the Rev. Denny McCullough, chaplain at the Children's Home. He said they were not deterred, even though most of them knew they would have to give up something in order to make another child's Christmas brighter.

When asked to describe her feelings after completing the project, one of the girls said, "We're happy that someone who doesn't have very much will get something for the first time."

The children were able to fill 123 shoeboxes, collected from all the cottages after Thanksgiving and taken to the YMCA in DeLand. From there the shoeboxes were shipped to all parts of the world.

McCullough said the children worked hard to raise the money they needed to buy the gifts for the boxes. They began the project in October with on-campus car washes and lemonade stands. They also used money from their recreation fund, which meant giving up movies and other entertainment, and some used part of their personal allowance, adjusting their lifestyles so that they could give the gifts. Many of those with off-campus jobs used part of their earnings to buy items for the shoeboxes.
Because the shoeboxes are sent to children all over the world, people providing the boxes are asked to fill them with items any child in any country would treasure. The limited size of the shoeboxes also means the gifts must be small enough fit in the box. The children filled the boxes with as many items as possible, including hard candy, matchbox cars, small dolls and stuffed animals, pencils, notebooks, toothpaste, soap, brushes, playing cards, underwear and other miscellaneous items.
McCullough said he was very proud of the children. "The girls in Shannon Cottage really led the way in our effort to reach out to other children in need around the world," he said. "Their hard work and generosity have been an inspiration to everyone at the Children's Home."

Located in Enterprise, Fla., the Florida United Methodist Children's Home strives to create an atmosphere that enables children and families with special needs to experience God's love and care as presented in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Combining Christian influence with a healing, caring, therapeutic community, the Children's Home provides a continuum of specialized services designed to strengthen individual and family life.


This article relates to Outreach.

*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Owen is a freelance writer based in Jacksonville, Fla.