Penny the Traveling Clothespin Doll shares her adventures at home and abroad.

All posts in Christmas

Did you ever wonder, where do all those Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes go after being packed by so many generous folk each year?

We posted here about the shoebox Penny helped to pack last year: Packing a Shoebox With Love.

Then in November of last year, 2017, my clothespin doll, Violet, got to travel with our friends Don and Cindy, to visit the biggest Shoebox Packing Center in the country, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Would you like to see what they were up to?

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Volunteer at a Processing Center


“Millions of shoeboxes are collected during National Collection Week, the third week in November every year. Before these special gifts can bring hope and joy to children around the world, each one has to be carefully inspected and made ready for overseas shipment by volunteers like you. You can help prepare shoeboxes for delivery by volunteering at one of our eight processing centers across the United States. About 80,000 volunteers serve annually at our processing centers.”


Quoted from the Samaritan’s Purse website – here.

There is a long line waiting to get started today, come on in and see what happens here!

Once we check in, we get assigned to our station. There are 60 stations in this plant, with 12 volunteers working per station, 6 on each side of the bench.

Each shoebox that was packed, (maybe in your hometown) is brought here to be inspected. The inspectors open each box to see, first, if there are any forbidden items inside. See the list of “inappropriate” items hanging there to remind them? This list changes sometimes depending on which country these shoeboxes will be going to. Filler items piled in those center baskets are available to replace anything that must be removed. As far as possible, each box still contains what the giver meant it to.

Violet found a friend. ♥

Once each shoebox passes inspection and is ready to go, it is taped shut and bundled into the waiting cardboard boxes.

Very often throughout the day a moment of silence is taken to stop all labors and pray unitedly for the packages being sent from here right now.

Cindy wrote: 11/27/17   “Becky, the boxes today are going to the Ukraine and Africa, we have processed 45,000 boxes so far today. Violet is taking in all the experience with us.  This is an amazing project!!!”

Lunch Break. Taking a little rest.

Don is waiting with a tape gun where the cardboard boxes come down the conveyor belt to be piled into giant stacks.

Cindy helped to enter the tracking numbers for those who are following where their box is going in its travels.

The stacks of boxes are lifted by forklift and loaded onto semi trucks to move them on toward their final destinations.

A giant panel colorfully illustrates the travels of a shoebox.

Packing, Collection Centers, and then the Processing Center to prepare for shipping.

Worldwide Distribution, where leaders are trained to use “The Greatest Journey” and host outreach events where the Gospel is shared and the shoeboxes are handed out. Then this results in Discipleship and Multiplication – spreading the word and building churches.


The Greatest Journey

“After receiving shoebox gifts, many children are invited back to participate in our discipleship program, The Greatest Journey. Through this 12-lesson course, which includes Bible stories and Scripture memorization, they learn how to follow Christ in their daily lives as they share Him with friends and family. More than 14.9 million children have enrolled in this program since 2009.”

The Greatest Journey

The little fellow in this giant poster below is holding a copy of “The Greatest Journey.”

What a great privilege it was when Franklin Graham himself stopped by to personally thank the volunteers here. There was a little program presented with skits and special music for everyone to enjoy.


Violet is here in the stack of wrapped packages on display in front of the speaker’s podium. A close up shot…

And a disant shot, can you still see her?

Merry, Merry Christmas to all!!

The Samaritan’s Purse Headquarters is located in Boone, North Carolina. There is a processing center here, but it is not as large as the one in Charlotte.

Here Cindy met with a guard and a few other volunteers by the Christmas tree.

These ladies, once upon a time, were blessed to recieve a shoebox when they were young. Now that they are grown, they have come to help others recieve them too!

Their shirts are printed to tell where they were living when they got their shoebox!

Here are a few displays of distant countries where the shoeboxes go. Merry Christmas to many children in many places around the globe!

Cambodia
Thailand
Afghanistan

Violet’s trip also included a wonderful visit to the Billy Graham Library.

This barn is a tribute to Billy Graham’s early days growing up on a dairy farm. Violet got to make friends with “Bessie the Talking Cow” !!

Billy Graham’s pulpit.

These happy ladies work in the house; they enjoyed meeting Violet and hearing about her travels.

Here is where Billy Graham’s Bible is kept.

I’m guessing this must be Billy Graham’s father. Here is a neat article on him. Billy Graham’s Father and the Prayer Heard Around the World.

Our church, The Genesee Country Church, here in New York, is just beginning to do more with the Shoebox collecting. Last year individuals filled 138 shoeboxes. This year we hosted a big packing party in the gym and filled 236 boxes. We are thankful for Cindy and Lois who have organized so much, and their enthusiasm is spreading!

Here Don is helping in the corner of our gym where the boxes are brought and each is prayed for, that God would guide it and bless the special child who recieves it.

Even the littlest ones were thrilled to pack a box and pray over it.

Chosen, prepared and sent with love.


 

A very merry Christmas from our house to yours!  ♥

 

 

Penny and I have been enjoying trying our hand at making gingerbread houses this year.  A new experience for me.  Thanks to Google, we found a good recipe and set to work mixing ingredients, kneading lots of flour into the dough to make it very stiff, and then rolling it out to cut into shapes to create our little houses.

 

 

I am thankful to have found the tip saying to hot glue the house together, rather than relying on just frosting, and it sounded like a good step to make things simpler.  So that’s what I did, with no regrets, though it would not be purely edible.  I wasn’t planning on these getting eaten.

 

 

You can see here that I drew lines on the roof with a pencil for the “shingle” pattern.  Penny and her pets wanted to run in and out to explore the cute little house.

 

 

Another tip I learned was to make the candies available in a muffin tray.  Good idea!  We had red and green M&Ms, white chocolate wafers, gummy candies, little cinnamon drops, pretzels, pecans, and dates.  And of course, candy canes.  Go easy on the sampling here!!

 

 

And now for the little people to begin.  I made royal frosting from egg whites and confectionery sugar that is meant to dry quickly.  I gave the workers each a sandwich bag with the tip cut off so they could pipe it on as they wished.  Here the pencil lines are roughly followed with frosting and M&Ms applied with little fingers.

 

 

This is a busy gingerbread house construction site with kids very intent on their labors.  So cute!

 

 

Someone got carried away with candy cane ridgepoles here, but no fear, there is nothing that a little more frosting can’t fix!  How do you like it now, Penny?

 

 

First we decorated the fronts, then the sides got candy accessories too – bright little Christmas bushes and white chocolate wafers.

 

 

Oh, here is a good idea, a pretzel log sidewalk to the front door.

 

 

I added frosting to the roof edges and some dripping icicles to complete this masterpiece.

 

 

This home belongs to the gummy snowmen who wonder if you won’t step inside and join them for a cup of cocoa?

 

 

After a busy day, here is Penny posing by the finished houses.  A big one for the children to take home, and a littler one for their Grandma.  Merry Christmas one and all!

In the background is the recently made Christmas banner celebrating “God with us”.

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”    Matthew 1:23

And that’s why we celebrate Christmas!!

 


 

We have taken part in the Samaritan’s Purse ministry Operation Christmas Child the last few years.  What fun it is to pack a box of special items to gift to a needy child in another land.

 

 

Here is the website all about Operation Christmas Child.

 

 

Our church ordered these festive printed boxes and this flier explained what to include while putting together your shoebox gifts.

 

 

Penny had a lot of fun trying out some of the items, like riding this toy jeep.  Whee!!

 

 

Imagine the fun some little boy will have with this harmonica, making music wherever he goes.

 

 

I love the warmth of handmade items, so Penny and I found a way to personalize the little 4 X 6 inch sketchbook with colorful washi tape and fun animal stamps decorating some of the pages here and there.

 

 

Here is the scrapsheet displaying the variety of critters now decorating the inside of the sketchbook: monkeys and hippos, giraffes and alligators.  I hope they will delight some little fellow who receives this.  He can fill out the rest of the pages as he wishes with the box of crayons we included.

 

 

Another homemade gift is a drawstring bag we called a “Possible Bag” as kids.  It can hold anything possible, and be a great place to store treasures.

 

 

Penny inspects the final stitches to be sure they are even and strong to hold up to lots of use.

 

 

Admiring the finished product.  This bright blue print is cheery.  I wonder what it will hold in its lifetime?

 

 

And now to try to fit it all in the shoebox!  The sketchbook, a yo-yo, a toothbrush, a new plaid shirt, sunglasses… a nerf football too!  How can we make it all fit?

 

 

We did it!!  The possible bag is tucked on top, then with a caring prayer that God’s love will bless whomever this will eventually belong to, Penny must sit fiercely on the lid while I wrap the bulging box with a couple of rubber bands.

 

 

Next, it gets a green label for a BOY, and we check the box for a child 5-9 years old.

 

 

And now it is ready to send!!

 

 

Violet is interested in seeing where the shoeboxes go from here, so we send her off to find out….

First it goes to our church where they collected a total of 138 boxes.  My friend, Cindy, from church helps at our town’s drop off location where all the area shoeboxes are collected, then packed into big brown boxes to be trucked out to a processing center.  There are 8 processing centers in the United States.

 

 

 

Violet will go along with Cindy as she and her husband volunteer at the Processing Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Stay tuned for her report on what happens there!

 

*******


 

Grandma’s Glasses

A little boy said to a playmate, “Do you know what I want for Christmas?  I want  glasses just like Grandma wears. She must have a special kind because she can see much more than most people.

“She can see when folks are hungry or tired or sorry, and she can even see what’ll make them feel better. She can see how to fix a lot of things to have fun with, and she can see what a feller meant to do, even if he didn’t do it right. She can see when a feller is about to cry and she can see what to do to make him feel better.

“I asked her one day how she could see so good, and she said it was the way she learned to look at things as she got older. So I want a pair of glasses just like Grandma’s so I can see good, too.”

*******

 

 

I love nativity scenes ~ the stable, the critters, and the dear people that were chosen to welcome the Christ child.

 

 

 

Our Christmas tree holds a collection of warm family memories from years gone by and many treasured handmade ornaments.

 

 

 

A beautiful variety of Christmas cards from family and friends is another of my favorite Christmas treasures.  This following picture reminds me of our farm.

 

 

Christmas is a time when we feel so loved, and it is a special time to pass that love around to others.

 

Penny, waiting by her Christmas mailbox.  Is the mailman coming yet?

 

Merry Christmas to you!

 

 

 

 


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Blessings to you, dear Reader, this Christmas, from Penny and I.

What a season full of blessings!  The blessing of God Himself coming down to where we are, to give us hope and salvation from the mess our world becomes without Him.  We celebrate this season because of Him.  And also we celebrate the blessing of family and the giving of gifts.  What a privilege to bless others.

 

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I enjoy stamping Christmas cards to give to friends.

A hedgehog snowman is rather a prickly friend, with a warm heart, of course!

We also bake lots of cookies to give to anyone who comes by.

 

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Penny enjoys exploring and sampling flavors amid the busyness of sticky counters.

 

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Penny likes to play in the pretty Christmas sprinkles.  The peppermint bits were tasty in chocolate cookies, a new combination we invented this year.

Penny would like to share with you a special recipe of ours:

Scandinavian Almond Bars

Beat:    1/2 cup softened butter
         1 cup sugar
Add:     1 egg
         1/2 tsp. almond extract
Stir in: 1 3/4 cup flour
         2 tsp. baking powder
         1/4 tsp. salt

Divide the dough into 4 balls.  Shape each into a 12" long roll. 
Place 2 rolls on an ungreased cookie sheet, flatten to 3" wide.
Brush with milk, then sprinkle with slivered almonds.
Bake at 325° for 12-15 minutes.
Allow to cool, then drizzle frosting over and slice diagonally.
(And we added Penny's Christmas sprinkles.)

 

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The almond cookies are a favorite of mine, but how can I favor any one cookie when they are all such yummy treats?  I must admit that the cookies I’ve been snitching the most lately are the turtle cookies.

What cookies did you like best Penny?

 

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Fudge!  And who has been snitching here?

*****

One of the special things about decorating for Christmas is the effect of lights.  We hope that you enjoy the glimpses of our Christmas lights below as much as we do each evening.

 

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Penny’s own Christmas tree.

 

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Silent night, Holy night,
All is calm, all is bright,
‘Round yon virgin mother and Child,
Holy Infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

 

 

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Merry Christmas!!