Operation Christmas Child, an annual program to help supply needy children with shoes, was locally dubbed "Kartons for Karly" this year. It's another way that Lincoln-Way communities have found to honor the little girl who died Oct. 13 in a two-car collision in Kankakee County.
Katie Little, 10, suffered only minor injuries in the accident; however, her father, Ken Little, was hospitalized for a few weeks in the aftermath of the accident. He suffered internal injuries, but is recuperating.
Neighbors and friends of the Little Family have found a variety of ways to lend support, but this one is unique. It's not about fund raising to help the family. This program is aimed at collecting presents for needy children.
Operation Christmas Child is a nationwide Christian relief program coordinated through Samaritan's Purse. At Lighthouse Fellowship Church in Frankfort, it's referred to as the Shoebox Ministry.
Jennifer Griffin, a friend and neighbor of the Little Family, said she thought re-naming the annual shoe box collection in Karly's honor would help continue the legacy of a child that was very loving. The goal is to fill 1,000 shoe boxes to help the needy children between the ages of 5-9 this Christmas.
This year, at least 100 of the shoe boxes from this church will be for girls-only. Each box will have a pair of shoes, a letter with a story about Karly and how she died. Griffin said the boxes are meant to be festive and fun. A variety of small, 'girly' items, such as hair bows, combs and hair ties will be inside. Each box will have a doll inside too. As for the wrapping paper, well that's special too. The Kartons for Karly will be wrapped in blue.
The Little Family regularly volunteered at the Operation Christmas Child Program, said Griffin. This year, she decided to honor that commitment.
"I've known the Little Family for about six or seven years. We worked the shoe box ministry together."
Griffin, who attends Lighthouse Fellowship Church in nearby Frankfort, said the Little's were happy to volunteer at Operation Christmas Child. They'd pack boxes with shoes and tidbits."Karly loved doing it."
"Karly was such a beautiful little girl. She always tried to do her best. She was a wonderful, giving child."
This isn't the only outpouring of support for the Little Family. Member of New Life Church, the Little Family's worship home, organized "Coins 4 Katie & Karly." Since Karly would be missing Halloween fun and trick-or-treating this year, friends from New Life Church in New Lenox, decided to use the opportunity to collect coins to help the Little Family with the financial hardships due to the accident.
Likewise, the New Lenox Rotary Club established a fundraiser at Old Plank Trail Community Bank in the name of the Little Family.
The Legacy Girls Traveling Soccer Team that Karly played on not only held a memorial practice in her honor, the players each wore blue arm bands in her honor at a tournament following the girl's death.
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