TOMAHAWK - Box after box came off John Olson's pickup truck Monday morning.
"It's just, we love to give," Olson said after he unloaded dozens of boxes.
The Calvary Baptist Church treasurer and his wife drove from Rhinelander to Tomahawk to deliver 143 shoe boxes for "Operation Christmas Child."
"Just put them all in, loaded them up, and here we are," Olson said.
The boxes are loaded with school supplies, toys, and hygiene items for children overseas. Calvary Baptist started collecting them in October with a goal of 90 boxes. By last weekend the church had stockpiled more than 100.
"It was so touching and heartwarming to know that our church alone is going to be able to touch 143 lives is just amazing," Olson said.
"This was a total surprise that they came, and we just call it a God thing," said Northwoods Vineyard Church member Bunny Komarek.
Northwoods Vineyard Church has served as a collection point for the nationwide program for the last three years. Every fall, the church holds a packing party, this year stuffing more than 300 boxes of its own.
"I don't think there's an inch left by the time we get done," Komarek said.
Northwoods Vineyard saw a slight drop in donations in the last few years, down from about 1,100 to around 950 in 2016, but the church hopes to pack a total of 1,000 boxes to send off in 2017. It's a lesson in offering these Northwoods churches hope children here grab onto.
"So many kids are always looking to get at Christmas," Komarek said. "This teaches these precious little kids to give."
Northwoods Vineyard will keep collecting boxes for another week. They'll then send the boxes to a distribution center in Minnesota. No matter how many more come in, John Olson knows the Northwoods is making a difference across the world.
"It's important to spread the name of Jesus," Olson said. "It's important to spread the gospel, and that's how we do it--through one box."
It costs $9 to ship each box. Northwoods Vineyard is taking donations of boxes, items, and money until Monday morning, November 20. Operation Christmas Child hopes to ship 12 million boxes collected nationwide this year.
The church is located at 418 Kaphaem Road just off Highway 86 in Tomahawk. You can visit the website below for more information.
RHINELANDER - Oneida County needs more foster care homes. Right now, there are nine licensed foster homes in the area, most of which are full according to the county's social services department.
Foster Care Coordinator Rachel Nelson says that in Oneida County there are 24 children currently living in foster homes. The department participated in a statewide foster care recruitment project last fall, and discovered just how great the need is.
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