Christmas Comes but Twice a Year

Dressed as a Christmas tree, Walnut Creek Church Deacon Greg Altmaier waits to get dunked during the Christmas in July event on July 12.

Volunteers from Walnut Creek Church and the Des Moines community packed an impressive 310 shoebox gifts and raised more than $900 during the Christmas in July party on July 12. The third annual event was hosted by Walnut Creek Downtown in partnership with Operation Christmas Child (OCC), a ministry of Samaritan's Purse.

OCC teams up with local churches worldwide to deliver gift-filled shoeboxes to hurting children in impoverished and war-torn countries. Each shoebox also includes a gospel booklet that shares with the children the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ.

The Christmas in July event provided attendees an opportunity to pack shoebox gifts for children around the world. "It's always really encouraging to see entire families working together to pack gifts," said Jed Johnson, one of the event's organizers. "It's a great opportunity to teach kids about giving to those in need while helping a wonderful cause. Plus, it's fun for all ages."

In addition to the packing party, other highlights of the 2013 event included:
  • A dunk tank, courtesy of Van Meter Fire and Rescue, with an opportunity to plunge the pastors and dunk the deacons;
  • An igloo where kids could go ice fishing for prizes;
  • A piƱata;
  • Free Dilly Bars, courtesy of Dairy Queen, and other refreshments; and
  • A raffle for some great prizes from local businesses.
New this year, for every five items attendees donated to the gifts, they received a raffle ticket. Walnut Creek Church would like to thank areas businesses that contributed the raffle prizes: Bella Salon in Johnston, Dairy Queen in Windsor Heights, Justin Salem Meyer Photography, Scratch Cupcakery, and Starbucks.

OCC is an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. Since 1993, OCC has hand-delivered more than 100 million gift-filled shoeboxes to needy children in more than 130 countries. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, OCC hopes to collect another 9.8 million gift-filled shoeboxes in 2013. To learn more about OCC, visit