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Young at Heart: Sterling House residents join Operation Christmas Child
new slt gift wrap sterling house
Residents of Sterling House in Great Bend wrap Christmas packages, Monday in the common area of the assisted living facility. Children in Third World countries will receive the gifts. Working around the table are, clockwise from left: Edna Wegele, Marie Marcum, Lenora Ochs, Wilma Bennett, Donna Thompson, Mary Wilhelm (at end of table), Jo Volosin and Betty Schmidt. - photo by Susan Thacker


Centuries of gift wrapping experience didn’t go to waste, Monday at Sterling House in Great Bend. Nearly 30 residents at the assisted living center spent part of the afternoon filling more than 40 shoeboxes with gifts for children in Third World countries, and decorating the boxes with Christmas wrapping paper.

The shoeboxes were filled with school supplies, toiletries and toys for children 5-9 years old, said Tia Blehm, executive director at Sterling House. Items were either donated by local businesses or purchased by Sterling House. The activity was on behalf of Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse International Relief.

Blehm said residents do several community service projects each year. This is their second year for participating in this project.

According to the Samaritan’s Purse website, children in more than 130 countries have received these shoeboxes since 1993, and 8 million children received boxes last year through this Christian ministry.

Nov. 15-22 is National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child boxes. Area drop-off locations are at Grace Community Church, 210 McKinley St., Great Bend; First Southern Baptist Church, 1224 Corse Ave., Larned; and Otterbein United Methodist Church, 120 W. Wisconsin St., Russell. For more information on the project, including packing instructions, see the website,

Crysta Clymer, director of children’s ministry at Grace Community Church, said this is the Great Bend church’s first year to serve as a drop-off location. They will accept boxes next week between the hours of 8 a.m. and noon and 1-5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 20. Boxes will also be accepted from 1-3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 21.