Faith Notes

Hays Daily News

Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes being collected

Families, churches, and civic groups are busy transforming empty shoeboxes into fun gifts filled with toys, school supplies and hygiene items. Operation Christmas Child is in full swing, with National Collection Week ending Monday, Nov. 22.

On Monday, Nov. 15, North Oak Community Church, 3000 Oak St., dropped off 1,101 boxes that its members had packed. This has been the largest single collection so far in Ellis County, said Rachel Albin, Northwest Kansas area director.

Tyler Tophoj helps his daughter Olivia, age 2, pack a shoebox at the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Packing Party at Messiah Lutheran Church on Sunday, Nov. 7. The Tophoj family of Denver was in town for the weekend visiting grandparents Stacey and Steve Shultz of Hays.

Operation Christmas Child is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief organization headquartered in Boone, N.C. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 188 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 170 countries and territories.  For many children, this is the first gift they will ever receive.

Albin said that as of the end of the second day of collections, Tuesday, Nov. 16, her area was 35 percent of the way towards its goal of 7,989 boxes this year. Least year 7,130 boxes were collected in Northwest Kansas.

Albin emphasized that anyone can pack a simple shoebox and drop it off, with the lid and box wrapped separately. Hays has two drop-off locations: CrossPoint Church, 1300 Harvest Road; and Messiah Lutheran Church, 2000 Main St.

Remaining drop-off times at CrossPoint Church are:

Friday, Nov. 19, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 20, 4 to 6 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 21, 4 to 6 p.m.

Monday, Nov. 22, 9 to 11 a.m.

Remaining drop-off times at Messiah Lutheran Church are:

Friday, Nov. 19, 4 to 6 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 20, 1 to 3 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 21, 1 to 3 p.m.

Monday, Nov. 22, 9 to 11 a.m.

Those who prefer the convenience of online shopping can browse

to select gifts matched to a child’s specific age and gender, then finish packing the virtual shoebox by adding a photo and personal note of encouragement.

More information is available from Albin at (785) 639-1325 or

Food drive will take place on Nov. 20

Volunteers will collect non-perishable food items from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, at both Dillon’s Stores and Walmart in Hays. The groceries will be sorted, placed in bags, and distributed during the Free Community Thanksgiving Feast on Thursday, Nov. 25.

The free bags of groceries will be available from noon to 2 p.m. Thanksgiving Day in the parking lot of The Press restaurant, 230 E. Eighth. The bags will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis as long as supplies last.

Those wishing to help with the food drive may contact Brandon Nimz, Ellis County Ministerial Alliance president, at (785) 259-2539 or

Grief support groups plan tree dedications

The Center for Life Experience has two events planned for Saturday, Nov. 20, to offer support for those going through grief.

At 11 a.m. the Healing Hearts and Healing Kids’ Hearts support groups will host the dedication of the Children’s Holiday Memorial Tree at Jackie Creamer’s Dance Studio, 1003 Main St. Anyone is welcome to come and add an ornament to honor a child who has died, said Ann Leiker, executive director of the center.

At 1 p.m. that afternoon at the same location, the Healing After Loss and Healing After Loss of Suicide support groups will host the dedication of their memorial tree honoring adults who have died by suicide or other causes. Anyone is welcome to place an ornament on the tree.

These trees will be up through the holidays and taken down after Jan. 1, 2022. The center will hold onto all the ornaments for upcoming years unless a person donating an ornament wants to retrieve it after Jan 1, 2022.

For information, please contact the center at (785) 259-6859 or

Surplus commodity distribution set Nov. 23

Free government surplus commodities will be distributed from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 23, at Unite Free Store (inside The Gamers Guild), 200 E. Eighth.

Recipients must meet income guidelines. The commodities will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis as long as supplies last, said Brandon Nimz, Unite Ministry leader.

Commodities included in this distribution are anticipated to be instant milk, orange juice, canned beef, raisins, peanut butter, whole tortillas, chicken legs, pumpkin, rice, and cereal.

Income guidelines and future commodity distribution times will be posted at Nimz may be reached at (785) 259-2539.

Episcopal youth group selling Christmas wreaths

The youth group of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Kansas is selling Christmas wreaths.

A 22-inch wreath is $30; a 28-inch wreath is $40. Deliveries will be made the weekend after Thanksgiving. Checks should be made payable to Diocese of Western Kansas, with “wreaths” in the memo line.

Orders are being taken by the Rev. Shay Craig, vicar at St. Michael’s and St. Andrew’s Episcopal Churches in Hays. She may be reached at

Chartwells kicks off food drive for 2 pantries

Chartwells, the food service vendor at Fort Hays State University, is sponsoring a “Thank-ful Food Donation” drive for the Tiger Food Exchange in Forsyth Library and St. Joseph’s Food Pantry, 14th and Ash Streets.

Donations of canned goods and other non-perishable food items may be dropped off at the McMindes Hall Café on campus through Tuesday, Nov. 30.

Each donor will receive a Starbucks voucher for one free 16-oz. brewed coffee. 

FHSU Honor Society sponsoring coat drive

The Fort Hays State University Honor Society is sponsoring a coat drive through Friday, Dec. 3.

New and gently-used coats, hats, gloves, scarves, and other warm clothing items may be dropped off at the following locations: The Memorial Union; McMindes Hall; Breathe Coffee House, 703 Main St.; Celebration Community Church, 5790 230th Ave.; and Comeau Catholic Campus Center, 506 W. Sixth.

Hannah Wiebe, community service coordinator for the honor group, said some of the items would be donated to the Tiger Food Exchange “to directly reach students in need.” The rest, particularly children’s items, will be donated to the Community Assistance Center.

More information is available by emailing Wiebe at

Hays Area Children’s Center to hold fundraiser

The Hays Area Children’s Center will host its annual fundraiser, “Bright Lights for Little Tykes,” at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, at The Strand Event Center, 1102 Main St.

All proceeds will benefit children with disabilities through the early childhood education programs that the center provides.

Individual tickets are $75, which includes a bidding number for silent and live auctions, entertainment provided by Dueling Pianos, an Italian meal, and two complimentary glasses of beer or wine. A table of eight is $550. Tickets may be reserved by calling Dakota Gipson at (785) 625-3257.

The Hays Area Children’s Center, 94 Lewis Drive, has been serving children in the area for 55 years. Those wishing to make a donation or to volunteer may contact Kristin Herl, board member, at