Students give gifts of love to Hilltop Ministries

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 5, 2002

CENTREVILLE &045; Old shoe boxes are commonly used in American households to store anything from family pictures to needles and thread. But students at Centreville Academy have also discovered that a lot of love can be packed into a shoe box at Christmas.

Kids here have been busy collecting the boxes and stuffing them with gifts for needy children in poverty-stricken areas of the country. The program is sponsored each year by Hilltop Ministries, which is based in McGehee, Ark.

&uot;Our main focus is on helping the kids in the Appalachian region, and the Navaho and Hopi children in Arizona and New Mexico. The delta regions of Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas are also very poor.

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We help out there, too,&uot; said Hilltop director Seith &uot;Junior&uot; Partin, who picked up 175 cheerfully wrapped gifts at the school on Thursday.

Students filled the boxes with toys, calculators, school supplies and other presents that were donated or bought with funds they collected.

A Centreville dentist contributed toothpaste and brushes to the cause.

&uot;The kids made the wrapping paper from bulletin board paper,&uot; said sixth grade teacher Cathy Perry.

Perry sponsors the Junior Beta Club, which spearheaded the school’s effort in conjunction with the student council.

&uot;They glued, stenciled and drew pictures on the wrapping &045; we tried to personalize it. Some of the boxes have self-addressed cards in case the kids want to write back to us,&uot; Perry said.

Fifth and sixth graders gathered outside the school and handed the gifts to Partin and his uncle, Andrew, who stacked them along with textbooks and medical supplies in a U-Haul truck.

Partin, who serves on a seven-member board of directors for the ministry,

said the group uses volunteer help to gather the gifts and truck them across the country.

Partin said more packages&045;including clothing and food items&045;will be gathered this weekend from local churches.

&uot;The kids these presents are going to really need this help.

Some of them won’t have anything for Christmas if we don’t do this,&uot; he said.