Karly’s Kartons honor ‘bright light in the world’
By JASON FREEMAN email@example.com November 10, 2012 6:38PM
Emily Ward, 12, of New Lenox, fills a box with useful gifts at the packing event for Operation Christmas Child at Lighthouse Fellowship Church in Frankfort, Illinois, Saturday, November 10, 2012. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 12, 2012 6:43AM
When a child dies, it’s virtually impossible for friends and family to find the slightest shred of silver in the lining.
But that isn’t stopping those who loved 9-year-old Karly Little from trying.
Volunteers gathered at Lighthouse Fellowship Church in Frankfort on Saturday to pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child in honor of Karly, who was killed Oct. 13 after a car she was driving in was struck at an intersection between Bourbonnais and Manteno townships.
Operation Christmas Child, which is a mission of the international faith-based organization Samaritan’s Purse, packs and sends thousands of shoeboxes filled with toys, school supplies, personal items and other gifts every year to children in impoverished countries across the world.
This year, about 1,000 of the 16,000 shoeboxes packed locally will be dubbed Karly’s Kartons and will be sent to girls ages 5 to 9. The packages will contain items specifically designed to honor Karly, such as a photo of her, items she enjoyed and a letter written by her mother, Karen, explaining who Karly was.
Karly’s Kartons are a fitting tribute, as Karly and her family were regular Operation Christmas Child volunteers.
“I feel privileged to have known her,” said Jennifer Griffith, church relations coordinator for Samaritan’s Purse and a friend and neighbor of the Little family. “She was such a bright light in the world, and she always was willing to give to others. She would save little toys and trinkets that she was given throughout the year, waiting to put them in a shoebox.”
Lighthouse parishioner Peggy Farris, of Frankfort, helped by folding shoeboxes.
“This is going to children who, most of the time, wouldn’t have a gift otherwise,” she said. “We see videos of the children opening up their gifts, and they’re all thrilled. It’s just great.”
Volunteers either filled the shoeboxes with items they brought from home or chose from a plethora of provided supplies.
“I’ve traveled the world, so I’ve seen people in all sorts of different situations,” said volunteer Brandon Estrada, of Frankfort. “It’s meaningful to know that someone who needs something, a child especially, is going to get it.”
After packing, the shoeboxes will be sent to Boone, N.C., where they then will ship to various countries.
Griffith said Karly’s Kartons will become an annual part of Operation Christmas Child.
“I know that Karly would be proud, “Griffith said. “She would be really proud.”
For more information, visit www.samaritanspurse.org/occ or call Lighthouse Fellowship Church at (815) 469-0611.