Connellsville Church of God members to hold fundraiser to help with shoebox effort

| Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Connellsville Church of God members are holding an important fundraiser on Nov. 8.

A spaghetti dinner will be held in order to earn money for a group of members to travel to North Carolina to volunteer at the Samaritan's Purse — Operation Christmas Child plant where shoeboxes are packaged at this time every year to be sent to needy children around the world.

“Our church has two ministries that combined on this project. One started getting the shoeboxes ready and out to the congregation, and the other is a group that goes down and represents the church as volunteers in Boone, N.C.,” said Jana Sperandio who will be among those on the trip. “Lois Jenkins is the coordinator of the original shoebox ministry in our church. She and our outreach committee have been doing the shoeboxes for at least 15 years. They came up with a list of items for each age group so that each box would be equally full.”

Sperandio explained that about three years ago, two members of the church — Renee Urbach and her mom Sandy Smith — received information on volunteering at the processing center in Boone, N.C., (there are 7 across the country) where they package cartons of shoeboxes by age group and get them ready to send overseas to children in other countries. Volunteers and missionaries in the different countries then take the shoeboxes to villages and orphanages and hand them out with a track about Jesus in their own language.

“Renee and Sandy were so impressed with their visit that first year that they came back to our church and a bigger group went down the following year,” Sperandio said. “This year we have 15 volunteer members going to help.”

To help offset expenses such as travel, gas and hotel, church members have planned the dinner fundraiser for 5:30-7:30 p.m. and hope the community will come out to support the event. The cost is $7 for a large meal; $5 for a small meal. Both sizes include spaghetti, salad, bread, dessert and beverage. Takeouts are available, but there is dining available in the gym and everyone is invited to stay and eat if they desire. There are no stairs, the gym is easily accessible, organizers noted. Also, all those going on the trip will volunteer their time at the dinner, either in the kitchen cooking, serving and waiting on the tables, taking money, or preparing takeouts.

The church is located at 126 Breakneck Ave.

“Here is a link — — to a fun video that shows the processing center and volunteers working. This is what we do when we go down. We enjoy packing the shoeboxes with items, and now that we've been to the processing center, we have a little more understanding of what all goes on to get these shoeboxes to children everywhere,” Sperandio said. “They will randomly stop the line during packaging and have us pray over the shoeboxes and pray for the children receiving them. It's wonderful to know that we are one small part of God's big plan.”

Locally, shoeboxes are collected at World Christian Outreach Ministries as they have been for 12 years. Ruth Smith continues to be the relay site coordinator and WCOM is the drop-off point for shoeboxes collected in the greater Connellsville area. Churches, groups and individuals who put together one or many shoeboxes will bring them to the church at 503 W. Georgia Ave., behind Subway in Connellsville during collection week, Nov. 18-24, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-noon; and Sunday, 1-4 p.m.

“It's not too late to pack a shoebox,” Smith said. Organizations, clubs, families and individuals are encouraged to fill one or more shoeboxes to brighten the life and give joy to a less fortunate child in the world.”

Instructions on what items can be included are available at

“The spaghetti dinner fundraiser being held at the Church of God will help those volunteers with finances to travel to the Boone, N.C., processing center,” Smith said. “I've been there. It is an extraordinary experience.”

For more information, call Smith at 724-628-9285 or 724-984-1053.

Nancy Henry is a contributing writer.

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