The boxes that will be delivered Dec. 17 as part of Boulevard Presbyterian Church's annual Christmas mission project will be filled with nonperishable food, gift cards and toys to help make the holiday season brighter for central Ohio families in need.
But the primary ingredient that makes the annual project so successful is the spirit of giving and support from local folks, said Becky Elliott, project coordinator.
"The reason why we're able to do this project is because we have so much support and participation from all over the Grandview community," Elliott said.
"It's a project where everyone from children to older adults can take part," said Martha Hills, who, along with Debbie Shealy, organized a cookie-baking and -decorating project for youngsters Dec. 10 in the church's kitchen.
"It's the first time we've tried this," Hills said. "We were looking for a way to help our children learn the importance of helping others.
"This is a part of the project they can call their own," she said.
Children of all ages helped bake and decorate about 20 dozen cookies at the Dec. 10 activity, Hills said.
Six to 18 cookies will be delivered to families based on their size, Elliott said.
Hills said the enthusiasm shown by the children helping to prepare the cookies was gratifying.
"They really seem to be caught up in the spirit of giving," she said. "That makes it a success."
Gus Hooley, 12, of Grandview volunteered with his brother, Levi, 5.
"It's about helping the less fortunate," Gus said. "It makes me feel amazing. You feel good knowing you're doing something to help others.
"Jesus gave his life on the cross as a gift to us, so giving to others is a way we can fulfill his message," he said.
Emina Osborne, 9, of Grandview said she wanted to volunteer because "it's important to give to and help people.
"Christmas is about giving," she said. "It makes me feel happy helping others."
Both Stevenson Elementary and Edison Intermediate/Larson Middle schools held food drives to support the Christmas project, Elliott said.
"We have so many local groups that contribute to or volunteer for our project," she said. "We have a group that is making prayer shawls that we'll give to the older members of the families we help."
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Upper Arlington again has conducted a toy drive for the project. In addition, St. Luke's United Methodist Church contributes boxes of macaroni and cheese, and Northwest Christian Church donates boxes of pasta, Elliott said.
Other organizations or businesses that help sponsor or participate in the project include the Tri-Village Sertoma, Northwest Kiwanis, Tri-Village Lions Club, Schmidt & Associates, Buddhist Center of Ohio, Boy Scout Troop 73 and Cub Scout Troop 28.
"It's almost impossible to count all the people who contribute in one way or another to our project," Elliott said. "It's truly a community project."
Local residents are invited to assist with the upcoming weekend of activities to assemble and deliver the Christmas boxes.
Volunteers will gather at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15, to tape and label boxes. The packing and assembling of boxes will take place beginning at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 16. Volunteers will deliver boxes to central Ohio families at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17.
Each activity will be held in the fellowship hall at the church, 1235 Northwest Blvd.
The 2017 project will assist about 280 central Ohio families, Elliott said. Boulevard works with several organizations to identify families in need, including Neighborhood Services Inc.; the Near Northside Emergency Material Assistance Program; the Congregational Outreach Ministries Program of Assistance and Social Service; and Syntero.