OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD IS UNDERWAY
This is the collection week for Operation Christmas Child — also known as Operation Shoebox. It’s the world’s largest Christmas project, established in 1993 by Samaritan’s Purse, a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization which provides spiritual and physical aid around the world.
Shoeboxes are filled with toys, candy, school supplies, and other items by supporters and brought to local distribution centers. Operation Christmas Child has distributed more than 85 million shoeboxes over the years to children in 130 countries, and has a goal this year topping the 100-million shoebox mark.
Shoeboxes will be collected through Sunday at local drop-off sites, with days and hours set by each site. There are sites in eight Panhandle towns this year, including: Chadron, Gordon, Alliance, Harrison, Sidney, Kimball, Gering, and Scottsbluff. Most community collection sites are churches, and that’s true in the Panhandle.
In Harrison, it’s the Harrison Bible Church while in Alliance, Sidney and Kimball, it’s the local Evangelical Free Church. The Gordon site is the Church of God, and the Chadron location is the First Baptist Church.
In Gering, though, its Johnson Cashway, while Scottsbluff has three locations, Panhandle Coop-Main Street Market, Wal-Mart, and the First Baptist Church.
The First Baptist Church is also the regional collection point.
Area coordinator Carissa Smith says the Panhandle goal is 3,100 shoeboxes…and she filled 250 boxes last month with the help of local children at the Kids Explore event in Mitchell.
Other local drop-off sites in the Double Q Country listening area are the Lifeway Church in Torrington, the Open Bible Living Center in Rapid City, the Living Outreach Church in Custer, and the Hot Springs Wesleyan Church, which is also a regional collection point. Days and hours are set by each local center.
Operation Christmas Child has pre-printed boxes for filling, but Hawthorn says they aren’t required. Regular shoeboxes are welcome as are shoebox-sized plastic containers, which have the added advantage of becoming long-term storage containers for the kids.
The boxes can be wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper, but the top and bottom need to be wrapped separately so volunteers can check the contents.
Gift-givers can choose to buy for a boy or a girl and can even select an age range. Each collection site has a flyer on suitable items, with the Operation Christmas Child website, operationchristmaschild.org, also has suggested gifts ideas and tips on how to pack the boxes.
Shoebox donors are asked to contribute $7 per box to help with shipping costs, but it’s not mandatory and those who don’t fill shoeboxes are encouraged to contribute toward the shipping.
Checks may be made out to Samaritan’s Purse with “OCC” written on the memo line and placed in the shoebox, or payments can be paid online. Online donors will be notified by e-mail which country will receive their box.