Local Womens’ group helps with many causes

Area women who are part of the monthly “I Know Christine (Dean) Ladies Lunch” know what to expect this time of year.

When they gathered Tuesday, Nov. 10, at Dean’s Farragut workplace, His Security & Technology, where she works in marketing and business development, they knew to bring bags of supplies to fill 50 shoeboxes for Samaritan Purse’s Operation Christmas Child.

It is actually the third year the loosely-knit group worked with the charity, under the guidance of fellow member Sandra Parsons of Bank of England Mortgage, who heads up this particular fund-raiser.

“It is a networking group … intended to be an opportunity for working women to meet casually to get to know each other and refer business to each other,” Dean explained of the 4-year-old fellowship, which has about 80 informal members. “The main goal of the group is connecting: connecting women to women in business, connecting women to causes they can help and connecting women to each other in friendship.

“But we have built in a community service component. Every month we support some charity effort, either through donations or service,” she added. “OCC is an example. Some donate or bring the varied items, and then we assembly-line pack 50 boxes. Other months we donate funds to support some effort or donate specific items needed by a charity — it all changes month to month.”

Other charities assisted include Susannah’s House, the Wesley House “Grannies” and Salvation Army.

“Except in November, we always do Operation Christmas Child boxes because Sandra started that effort and brings the boxes,” she added. “This is the third time we’ve done this (and by now) have a pretty efficient process.”

Parson said she and her family had been packing Christmas shoeboxes for the OCC “for more than 20 years.” Typically, the boxes containing school supplies, a small gift, socks and personal hygiene items are sent all over the world “to children who don’t receive anything for Christmas,” she said.

“We do the boxes specifically for the young men 10 to 14 years old because they are the most underserved,” Dean added.

While national collection week for Operation Christmas Child wraps up Monday, Nov. 23, Parsons said donations can still be made online to help with shipping costs or additional box needs not yet addressed.

For more information, visit www.samaritanspurse.org/occ.