BY BRUCE BRANUM
The Greenville Standard
Although Christmas is still many weeks away, it is time for those who are interested in taking part in Operation Christmas Child (OCC) to get their shoeboxes filled with goodies in order to ship them to underserved children in developing countries across the world.
OCC is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization. They have been collecting and delivering shoebox gifts to children worldwide since 1993.
It is a nation-wide program that allows individuals and groups to put together shoeboxes of toys, arts and crafts, school supplies and much more for children in poor or underprivileged communities.
The shoeboxes are shipped outside the United States to children affected by war, poverty, natural disaster, famine, and disease.
National Collection Week takes place the third week in November when nearly 5,000 drop-off locations are open across the country. This year, collection week is Nov. 13-20.
County coordinator Angie Meredith said, “I always pray that we have more than last year. God knows what He wanted us to have from our area, and He has them matched with boys and girls. He just needs us to get them from points A to B to C.”
She is grateful for a wonderful team of volunteers, saying it feels like a reunion each year when they gather.
Meredith remarked on the importance of the ministry saying, “Each shoebox serves as a gospel opportunity for these children. Several weeks after the children receive their boxes, many children have the opportunity to participate in The Greatest Journey, a 12 week discipleship program which is written in their language.
“They even receive their own Bible. Children are accepting Christ as their personal Savior and are sharing this good news with their families. Churches are being planted in areas that have never even heard the gospel.”
This year, Operation Christmas Child will collect its 200-millionth shoebox.
Meredith added that anyone can pack a shoebox and the project hopes to collect enough shoeboxes to reach 11 million children.
Packing a box is simple.
Start with an average-size cardboard or plastic shoebox. If you want to wrap it, cover the box and lid separately.
You can use your own shoeboxes or order colorful preprinted ones from Samaritan’s Purse. They are available in both cardboard and plastic.
Select a medium to large “wow” item such as a soccer ball with pump or stuffed animal, and then fill with other fun toys, hygiene items, and school supplies.
Don’t forget to also include a personal note and photo—sometimes these are the child’s favorite things to receive!
To make sure your shoebox gift gets to a child of the right gender and age, Samaritan’s Purse offers some different label options.
Labels also offer a way for you to give the necessary $10 donation per shoebox to provide for collection, processing, shipping, and other project costs.
You can order directly from Samaritan’s Purse at https://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/label-options#printable-labels.
The labels allow you to Follow Your Box and find out the country where your box will be delivered with the message of Christ’s love.
For Greenville, Southside Baptist Church at 211 King Street, will be the drop-off location.
Monday, Nov. 13, 9-11 a.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 14, 1-4 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 15, 12-2 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 16, 9-11 a.m. and 4-6 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 17, 12-2 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 18, 9-11 a.m.
Sunday, Nov. 19, 1-4 p.m.
Monday, Nov. 20, 7-9 a.m.
For other locations visit https://samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/drop-off-locations.
The online lookup tool is searchable by city or ZIP code. Signs at each location will identify the drop-off.