TULSA, Okla. — Residents at a Tulsa retirement community are honoring their friend who passed away while keeping with the Christmas spirit and giving back to children in need.
Montereau residents put together Christmas shoeboxes for children. Inside each box are toys like stuffed animals and jump ropes and school supplies like calculators and pencils. They’re part of Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child. The boxes are sent to kids in need all over the world.
“On Christmas morning, from what I’ve read about it, there’s going to be kids that don’t have anything and don’t get anything," said Ted Robertson, a resident at Montereau. "But they’re going to wake up on Christmas morning and they’re going to be presented with one of these shoeboxes.”
Residents at the Montereau retirement community put more than 1,000 of the boxes together. But this year was a little different. After Tom Naugle, their friend and fellow resident who brought the project to them passed away in October.
“Oh, he was a joy to know," said Awilda Godsey, a resident at Montereau. “He cared for it so much. And it was so important to him that it became important to me.”
“Tom lived for this time of the year," Robertson said. "This was his big deal.”
Tom started filling the shoe boxes in 2018. He would even travel to other countries to help deliver them. This year, even after he became sick, his goal was to get these boxes filled.
“Tom had a love for kids," Robertson said. "Everywhere we went, he seemed to draw kids and he always had something for them. It was just his way of life.”
While these boxes bring joy to kids, they also help residents get in the Christmas spirit. They could either fill their box with items provided for them or go shopping themselves.
“I have no small children in my family anymore," said Kay Miller, a resident at Montereau. "And I like toys. I like dolls especially. So, it was fun to go out and shop a little bit.”
It also gave residents a chance to meet their neighbors and come together for the holidays.
“When people brought their boxes in, they smiled," Miller said. "They laughed together. And, obviously, enjoyed the Christmas giving, the Christmas spirit of providing for someone else.”
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