Operation Christmas Child In Full Swing
by Sherrie Norris
Statistics provided by Samaritan's Purse indicate that since 1993, more than 95 million shoebox gifts have been delivered to children in more than 130 countries -- tangible evidence of God's love, the organization believes, that often opens doors to tell boys and girls and their families about salvation through Jesus Christ.
On the heels of National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child, which began last Monday and ends tomorrow (Nov. 12-19), thousands of shoeboxes are finding their way to the Boone headquarters of Samaritan's Purse.
However, that doesn't mean that the boxes are not accepted and appreciated beyond those dates.
It's a year-round project that simply escalates during the Christmas holiday, as we know it in America.
The excitement is rapidly escalating as the organization's staff and countless volunteers from every corner of the globe prepare for the world's largest Christmas project based in the High Country.
Millions of children will be impacted once again this year by the generosity of individuals, families, churches, schools and civic organizations that take the time to fill shoeboxes with small gifts. A simple gesture on our part often results in life-changing experiences for those youngsters, organizers said.
"These kids have never had a gift like this and when we can give a gift and give it in the name of Jesus Christ, it means everything in the world," said Franklin Graham, board chairman and presiden-CEO of Samaritan's Purse.
While they are more than happy to undertake such an amazing project, Graham and his staff realize that the success of OCC would not be possible without the help of those who pack shoeboxes and, not only give of their time helping at the processing centers to inspect and prepare the gifts for shipping, but also helping to deliver them in the far-reaching corners of the world.
In addition to the school supplies, personal care items and toys they discover when opening their shoeboxes, recipients in more than 60 countries are also given the opportunity to enroll in a 12-week discipleship course.
Called "The Greatest Journey," the lessons bring to life Bible stories and the truth of God's Word through brightly colored illustrations and easy-to-understand text, in their language.
After completing the course, the children "graduate," receiving a certificate and a Bible.
"God is using 'The Greatest Journey' as a discipleship program, and these kids are responding to it," said Cissie Graham Lynch, Graham's daughter. "They can go on to proclaim Christ in their country. It's not that you just give a box and walk away. These are long-term spiritual effects that we're making on these communities and these countries."
To make a difference beyond your community this year, get busy filling those boxes.
Special tracking technology will allow participants to follow their shoeboxes to their destinations by using the "Follow Your Box" form found under the OCC page at http://www.samaritanspurse.org.
What to include in your shoebox:
Toys, school supplies, hygiene items, hard candy, T-shirts, socks, ball camps, sunglasses, hair clips, toy jewelry, watches and flashlights. Don't forget pencil sharpeners and extra batteries.
What Not to Include:
Damaged items, war-related items such as toy guns, knives or military figures, chocolate or food, liquids or lotions, medications or vitamins, breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers, and aerosol cans.
Packing Your Shoebox
Use an empty shoebox (standard size) or a small plastic container. Wrapping the box is not required, but if you do, wrap the lid separately. Most importantly, pray for the child who will receive your gift.
Determine whether your gift will be for a boy or a girl, and the child's age category: 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14. Print out (from website) or pick up at a local church the appropriate boy/girl label. Mark the correct age category on the label, and tape the label to the top of your box.
Fill the box with a variety of gifts that will bring delight to a child. (See gift ideas.)
Please donate $7 or more for each shoebox you prepare to help cover shipping and other project costs. Give online by using "Follow Your Box Donation" option, or write a check to Samaritan's Purse (note "OCC" on memo line) and place it in an envelope on top of the gift items inside the box. If preparing more than one shoebox, one combined donation is preferred.
Place a rubber band around each closed shoebox and drop it off at the collection center nearest you. For locations and hours of collection, visit the Drop-Off Locations page at http://www.samaritanspurse.org., or find the nearest place to take your shoebox by entering your ZIP code, or call (800)-353-5949 for more information.
You can also send your gift to: Samaritan's Purse, Operation Christmas Child, 801 Bamboo Road Boone, NC 28607.