Members of First Baptist Church of Salado will be joining tens of thousands of U.S. residents who are on a mission to make a lasting impact on children in need. They are looking beyond their own wish lists and packing shoeboxes for boys and girls around the world—for many of the children, it will be the first gift they have ever received.
During the week of Nov. 14-21, caring people around the country will transform 9.5 million empty shoeboxes into gifts of hope filled with school supplies, hygiene items, notes of encouragement and fun toys, such as a doll or soccer ball. Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, will deliver these shoebox gifts to children overseas living in extreme poverty or affected by war, disease and natural disaster.
First Baptist Church is asking local residents to join them in preparing the shoeboxes for this year’s drive, when they will be gathered at the church on Nov. 20 to be distributed through the global effort.
Last year, the local church collected more than 400 of the boxes for distribution, according to member Ron LeGuin, who heads up the project in Salado each year.
According to organizers, once you have found a shoebox or similar size box to fill, you should pick the age of the child. Age groups are two to four, five to nine and 10 to 14 years of age. Put one “wow” toy such as a doll, soccer ball with pump, or stuffed animal in the box. Then add other fun toys, hygiene items, and school supplies.
“A global movement begins each November across the U.S. and seven other sending countries, millions are focused on making a difference in the lives of children facing difficult circumstances,” said Operation Christmas Child Domestic Director Randy Riddle. “What a joy to be a part of something bigger than ourselves like Operation Christmas Child. Giving such simple gifts like those found in shoeboxes mean the world to the neediest children and it’s something we can all do. ”
More than 150,000 volunteers including families, churches and other groups are linking arms across the country to contribute to the largest Christmas project of its kind. In 2016, Operation Christmas Child hopes to collect enough shoebox gifts to reach 12 million children, with 9.5 million coming from the United States.
Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 135 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 150 countries and territories. For many of these children, the gift-filled shoebox is the first gift they have ever received.