By Christine Harrigan-McIlhenny

2012 marks the fourth year that Cumberland Gymnastics in Carlisle, Pa., has organized Operation Christmas Child. The gymnasts and parents, under the direction of head coach Melanie (Heckert) Sheriff, work together to wrap and fill shoeboxes with necessities and fun items to send to needy children worldwide through Samaritan’s Purse. Scroll down for photos from this year’s event.

The parents and coaches pre-wrap shoeboxes and later fill them with toys, school supplies, crayons, washcloths, soaps, toothpaste, toothbrushes and more. The boxes are sent to the collection center, for distribution into the hands of children all over the world.

In four years, Team Cumberland has filled 1,325 boxes and plans to continue, every year! Your team can start its own program as well!

To learn more about Samaritan’s Purse, go to

A few tips for success include:

  • Organize with team parents!
  • Ask local shoe stores for extra boxes, as well as save your own.
  • Look for items to buy in bulk.
  • Provide volunteers with lots of wrapping paper, tape and scissors.
  • Encourage your participants to include a brief, hand-written note or greeting.