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Gospel Mission shoebox effort working to spread Christmas cheer

Candy Waite, director of the Gospel Mission Food Pantry, fills a shoebox for a little girl for Operation Backyard Shoebox in 2016. (File Photo)

MARIETTA — Even in the throes of recovering from an unfortunate accident, one of the west side’s good samaritans is determined to keep giving.

“It’s been a long healing process, but I’m doing pretty good now in physical therapy,” said Candy Waite, founder of the Gospel Mission Food Pantry, on Friday.

Candy and her husband Jeff were in a car accident in May, which left Candy with four fractured vertebrae, a broken rib and bleeding in her brain.

“I can do more in water therapy right now than anything,” she explained. “But we trust in the Lord and know he’s teaching us something through this. Growing up, I didn’t know how to ask for help and reach out, but the Lord is showing us we’re not to climb that mountain by ourselves.”

Now, as the holiday season ramps up, the Waites are already accepting special donations on top of the food supplies gathered for the community’s most in need.

“Now until Dec. 13, we’re collecting toy donations for Operation Backyard Shoebox,” explained Waite. “Then, on Dec. 14, we’ll need volunteers to help Santa by putting the boxes together for Santa to give out on Dec. 21.”

The operation began in 2011 with the help of food pantry volunteers like Terri Wright, of Reno.

“We go on that ‘packing Saturday’ as a family,” said Wright. “I bring my daughter and grandchildren, and we make a day of it… Jeff and Candy make it fun to serve to fill those boxes. We laugh and sing and have a good time.”

The first shoebox giveaway saw 94 children receive gifts. By 2015, that number grew to 354.

“We were able to share God’s love with 274 last year,” said Waite. “Cards, dolls, play dough, crayons, coloring books, hats, gloves, little toys, really any way that you feel led by the Lord to give that will fit in a shoebox will be a blessing.”

Donations can be dropped off at 309 Lancaster St. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. or Wednesday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Dec. 13.

Volunteer elves are needed at 8 a.m. on Dec. 14 to assemble the gift boxes.

The food pantry is also currently in need of peas, green beans, corn, tuna, dry milk, shampoo and dish liquid.

For more information on how to donate or get involved, call the Gospel Mission Food Pantry at 740-350-4417.

Janelle Patterson can be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

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How to Donate

* The Gospel Mission Food Pantry is accepting toy donations for Operation Backyard Shoebox through Dec. 13.

* Donations can be dropped off at 309 Lancaster St.:

* Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.

* Wednesday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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Donation items accepted include:

* Small dolls

* Children’s hair ties and supplies

* Matchbox cars

* Coloring books

* Crayons

* Small stuffed animals

* Travel-sized body wash and lotions

* Baby rattles

* Hats and gloves

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* Volunteers will be needed on Dec. 14 at 8 a.m. to fill the shoeboxes.

* Santa will give out the shoeboxes of toys on Dec. 21, 1 to 3 p.m.

* The food pantry is also currently in need of peas, green beans, corn, tuna, dry milk, shampoo and dish liquid.

* For more information on how to donate or get involved, call the Gospel Mission Food Pantry at 740-350-4417.

Source: Candy Waite

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