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Shopping for the world's children

Students from Richardton-Taylor High School's Student Council recently met in Dickinson to go shopping for Operation Christmas Child.

"My students have done this as a service project ever since I saw the ad in the paper -- I thought it would be a fascinating community project for the kids. They've been doing this about 16 years," said Jan Stromsborg, Student Council advisor.

Operation Christmas Child delivers millions of gift-filled shoe boxes to children around the world who are suffering because of war, natural disaster, poverty, illness or neglect, according to a press release.

The Richardton-Taylor Student Council held numerous bake sales in school to raise $500.

Arriving at Walmart, the students were divided into three teams to purchase items for the age groups 2-4, 5-9 and 10-14.

The shoppers were Nicole Leingang, Lindsey Tyrrell, Sierra Canerot, Ty Bloom, Sami Steiner, Amber Rebel and Maggie Zentner.

The students prepared eight boxes per girl and eight per boy in each category for a total of 48 boxes, said Stromsborg.

The shoe boxes were filled with toys, T-shirts, socks, games and school supplies, along with personal hygiene items such as toothbrushes and toothpaste.

"We were shopping like crazy," she said. "Everybody was talking to each other on cellphones -- I got this good deal over here. They shopped with a budget of $10 a box."

The students were excited to find bouncy balls that lit up.

"Of course, that was a big hit and every age group got those," she said.

They invited the community to support the project with donations for postage. Additional donations are always welcome.

Stromsborg said the project gives the students an awareness and satisfaction of knowing they are helping children around the world.

"The only perk out of the whole thing, is they give up a study hall to pack the boxes and I buy pizza for lunch," said Stromsborg.

Everyone -- individuals, families, businesses churches and civic groups -- in southwestern North Dakota may participate in the project, sponsored nationally by Samaritan's Purse.

National Collection Week is Sunday, Nov. 13 to Sunday, Nov. 20, at St. John Lutheran Church, 146 Sixth Ave. W. Office hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

"It's a very easy and enjoyable family experience because it's so easy," said Jodeen Myers, Operation Christmas Child coordinator for southwestern North Dakota. "Even young kids seem to realize this box of toys is the only gift a child gets in maybe an African country."

Volunteers packed 900 shoe boxes last year, but Myers ordered 1,400 shoe boxes for distribution.

"We may not hit that number, but I'm really hoping to go over 1,000 this year," she said.

The shoe boxes are delivered to a regional collection point, where notes of encouragement are added.

While the shoe boxes were distributed to nearly 100 countries last year, Myers recently received word that shoe boxes collected in southwestern North Dakota will be sent to India and Zambia, Africa.

The shoe boxes can be picked up at the church. For information, contact Myers at 701-225-3406 or toll free 800-353-5949, or visit the website,