When donating, students could decide whether they wanted to pack a shoebox for a boy or a girl and then look for gifts appropriate for a specific age range. In addition to toys, practical items such as school supplies and necessary items like a toothbrush and toothpaste were requested. Before closing the lid on the shoebox, the giver could include a note for the recipient, often complete with a photograph.
The shoeboxes will be delivered to regional processing centers, where volunteers prepare them for their trip overseas. Hundreds or thousands of miles later, the boxes clear customs, entering the care of Samaritan’s Purse ministry partners who plan distribution events at churches and other locations. According to Samaritan’s Purse, these distributions often begin with music or puppets and include a presentation of the Gospel that a child can understand. Then, each child receives a shoebox and after a countdown, they all open their gifts at the same time. Squeals of delight and shouts of joy fill the meeting area.
Noemi Perez, program manager for TIF’s Take Stock in Children and College Success programs, said, “Every year we offer this project to the students, and we usually receive about 20 to 30 shoeboxes, which is great, but this year the students exceeded our expectations. They were able to donate 213 boxes filled with gifts. It brings us great joy that the students were so willing to participate. It says so much about them.”
For more than 20 years, The Immokalee Foundation has committed itself to strengthening the Immokalee community with programs ranging from early childhood literacy education to college prep and advanced vocational training. Each provides students with opportunities to learn, grow and advance as students, as professionals and individually. With an emphasis on education, vocation and life skills, students learn how to be team players and leaders who give back to the community.
“We couldn’t be prouder of our students,” said Steven Kissinger, executive director of The Immokalee Foundation. “Each year they continue to give of themselves. We aim to inspire them, but they always manage to inspire us.”
The Immokalee Foundation has a range of programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary training, mentoring and tutoring, and opportunities for broadening experiences, life skills development and economic independence. To learn more about TIF, volunteering as a mentor or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit www.immokaleefoundation.org.