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November 7, 2013

Area student gathers gifts for needy kids

By Mark Boshnack Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — When 19-year-old SUNY Oneonta student Katheleen Tolentino was growing up in the Dominican Republic, she received presents from Operation Christmas Child. Now she's returning the favor.

Collection sites around the area will be accepting gift-filled shoe boxes during Operation Christmas Child’s National Collection Week from Nov. 18-25.

Tolentino, who is a sophomore at State University College of Oneonta, said she got involved when her church, the Community Gospel Church in Oneonta, said it was collecting boxes. Growing up “it was the only thing we would receive” for the holiday, she said. So when the opportunity came, “I felt like giving back."

People considering donating should realize that a box might make someone’s holiday, she said.

“I know kids who are not so privileged," she said. "It is beautiful to think you can make someone's holiday.”

Area residents will be able to drop off donations during collection week at the seven churches in the Johnson City collection center, coordinator Barb DeMoney said. Volunteers will be on hand to receive shoe boxes packed by individuals with toys, school supplies, hygiene items and notes of encouragement. Pictures of the donors are also encouraged.

“I think it will be a really big year,” she said. Last year, about 10,000 gift filled boxes were donated from the various churches in the area, and DeMoney said she expects that to grow.

One of the churches participating is the Main Street Baptist Church in Oneonta. Relay site coordinator Michele McFee said she began the program in Sidney and started the site in Oneonta in 2004 to make it more convenient for people to donate. McFee said she wanted to help others share the joy of giving, and that she likes being able to donate items that go to children who might not otherwise get a present.

More information, including drop off locations in the region can be found at