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Gabrielle Johnson rallies her classmates to stuff shoeboxes for kids in need

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Posted at 5:45 AM, Nov 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-18 17:55:21-05

ESSEX, Md. — The basement of the Lower/Middle schools at Mount Carmel School has turned into a Santa's workshop, with kids stuffing shoeboxes filled with goodies.

Leading the charge is 10-year-old Gabrielle Johnson, who started this service project with her mom a few years ago to benefit Operation Christmas Child.

"She wanted to do it as a fun little project and then it kind of turned into a school thing," said Johnson.

The students pick which toys, clothing and hygiene products to put in the shoebox. Older students can write letters to the recipients. The boxes will then be sent to kids overseas.

The first year she stuffed 30 shoeboxes with the help of her class. Then the number jumped to 300. And this year, with the help of the whole school, Johnson and her classmates filled 527 shoeboxes.

"I like seeing the smiles on the kids faces when they get the shoeboxes, I think it’s really sweet," she said.

Ryan Kloetzer, principal of the Lower/Middle school at Mount Carmel, said Johnson embodies the type of student they strive for all the kids at Mount Carmel to be. He said she's an inspiration of how a small act of kindness can grow into something much bigger and more impactful.

"Having that ability to say she is a beacon of what we want to produce and have here on our campus is an understatement, because if they were all like Gabrielle we’d be very lucky," he said.

Johnson considers herself lucky to have the support to take on a project of this magnitude. And with her mom's blessing, she can do even more next year.

"I want to do 800 but I don’t think she’s going to agree with that," Johnson said with a smile.

We get the feeling that her mom, and classmates, will help make that happen.