Operation Christmas Child gears up in time for the holidays

by Joni B. Hannigan , Editorial Staff |

Operation Christmas Child

BOONE, N.C. (Christian Examiner) -- National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child begins Nov. 17 and some volunteers have been working for months to prepare for the world's largest yuletide project of its kind.

There is no mystery surrounding the huge operation, and instead of fanciful elves and sleds driven by magical reindeer, thousands of men, women and young people will demonstrate God's love in a tangible way to millions of needy children around the world.

Through Operation Christmas Child, kids, families, churches and groups fill shoeboxes with toys, school supplies and hygiene items, creating gifts that can make a significant difference in the lives of those who are hurting.

Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan's Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham, the son of worldwide evangelist, Billy Graham.

Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has delivered gift-filled shoeboxes to more than 113 million children in more than 150 countries. In 2014, Operation Christmas Child hopes to collect enough shoebox gifts to reach another 10 million children.

(Photo by Joni B. Hannigan)A huge processing center for Operation Christmas Child at Samaritan's Purse in Boone, N.C. is into high gear to receive shoe boxes for the holidays.

In California, prospective students, alumni, and current students at California Baptist University will fill boxes during a campus-wide packing party Nov. 13 planned to coincide with Homecoming weekend and campus visitation days.

Julie Dobbins, assistant director of chapel and compassion ministries, told Christian Examiner this is the third year for CBU to participate in such a big way -- and involving high school seniors as part of the process make sense.

"It's neat just to see so many different levels of distribution -- from future students to past student and current students," Dobbins said. "Others students are excited to hear about it and want to participate."

NorthRidge Church in Michigan will host collection centers at four of its campuses in Michigan, Nov. 1-24, according to the church's website which includes instructions on how to pack a box.

Volunteers will serve at locations throughout November at the church's Plymouth, Saline, Brighton, and Grosse Ile campuses, and volunteers are sought to help pack cartons and load a truck.

"This Christmas, give the most meaningful gift by sharing the love of Jesus Christ in a simple shoe box," a promotion encourages.

High school students in Jacksonville, Fla., celebrated Christmas in July this past summer by bringing small gifts and handwritten notes to pack in shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.

National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child begins Nov. 17 and some volunteers have been working for months to prepare for the world's largest Christmas project of its kind.

There is no mystery surrounding the huge operation, and instead of fanciful elves and sleds driven by magical reindeer – thousands will demonstrate God's love in a tangible way to millions of needy children around the world.

National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child begins Nov. 17 and some volunteers have been working for months to prepare for the world's largest Christmas project of its kind.

Operation Christian Child

There is no mystery surrounding the huge operation, and instead of fanciful elves and sleds driven by magical reindeer – thousands will demonstrate God's love in a tangible way to millions of needy children around the world.

According to the Google Plus page for First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, students sang Christmas songs in their Refuge Worship service, and took part in a photo booth as part of their packing party.

Shoeboxes were sent to Irbid, Jordan last year, just miles from the Syrian border, where they were distributed as part of an effort to bring Christian and Muslim children together. They were distributed by Arab Woman Today, a division of Arab Center for Consulting and Training Services, an organization led by Nabeeh and Ruba Abbassi of Jordan.

WHY NOW?

Sending hope to millions of children is a massive, year-round effort, and anyone can participate. U.S. volunteers are needed year-round.

HOW U.S. RESIDENTS CAN HELP:

-- PACK A SHOEBOX GIFT—Fill shoeboxes with toys, school supplies, hygiene items and notes of encouragement. At samaritanspurse.org, click on "Operation Christmas Child" for step-by-step packing instructions. The shoebox gift may be the first gift a child has ever received.

-- VIRTUALLY PACK A SHOEBOX—Operation Christmas Child also offers the opportunity year-round to build a shoebox through an online tool offering a personalized and convenient way to send a gift to a child in one of the hardest-to-reach countries. Go to samaritanspurse.org and click on Operation Christmas Child to build a shoebox by selecting toys and gift items, writing a note of encouragement, and "packing" them in a shoebox.

-- SIGN UP TO VOLUNTEER—Volunteer opportunities are available at samaritanspurse.org. Click on "Operation Christmas Child" for more details and information.

-- SPREAD THE WORD—Help enlist individuals, families and groups to take part in creating shoebox gifts. For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, call 1-800-353-5949 or visit samaritanspurse.org. National Collection Week for gift-filled shoeboxes is Nov. 17-24; however, shoebox gifts are collected all year at the Samaritan's Purse headquarters in Boone, North Carolina.

Using special tracking technology, participants can follow their boxes online and discover the country in which their gifts will be delivered to children in need. To register a shoebox gift, use the online donation form at samaritanspurse.org.