Reaching children in the name of Jesus Christ.
The 2011 campaign for Operation Christmas Child, the shoe box ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, has started. Individuals, churches, civic groups and other like-minded people are now assembling boxes in advance of this year’s collection week which runs from November 14-21, 2011, in the United States.
Last year, more than 8.5 million shoe boxes were collected in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and elsewhere, and shipped to needy children in more than 100 countries scattered around the world. Each box is individually packed by donors and a gospel tract is included by Samaritan’s Purse where appropriate. Samaritan’s Purse works with local churches and organizations to distribute these boxes, which often represent the only gift that these children receive. Not all boxes arrive in time for Christmas, with some gifts distributed at other times of the year.
Many churches make the annual drive an important outreach event, encouraging congregants to fill shoe boxes with school supplies, personal items such as toothpaste or a comb, toys, hard candies and other child-friendly items, and bringing these gifts to their church. From there, volunteers gather the boxes and take them to local drop off points where Samaritan’s Purse retrieves them. When possible, donors are asked to contribute $7 for each box packed to help defray the cost of shipment.
In some areas of the country drop-off locations have been few and far between. However, Samaritan’s Purse has been working to open up new, local collection centers especially in thinly-populated areas. West Texas is one area that is benefiting from a new drop off location as Midland Bible Church has been tabbed as a relay station this year reports Audrie Palmer for the Midland Reporter-Telegram. Sherwood Baptist Church in Odessa is another drop off point for that region.
Some volunteers work well outside the normal Christmas preparation season, beginning their work during the long, hot days of summer and continuing on through their national collection week.
In Canada, Gail Maughan has been working for many weeks in preparation for her country’s collection drive which is November 21-27, 2011. Her campaign began at the Wetaskiwin Mall, located 75 minutes south of Edmonton, Alberta. For the past 13 years Maughan has been spearheading the location collection drive and has seen donations increase by more than four-fold from about 700 boxes, to more than 3,000 shoe boxes. Maughan has solicited the assistance of 19 area businesses to participate in the annual collection drive, an effort that has helped yield outsized results.
Samaritan’s Purse asks donors to pack shoe boxes for a boy or girl in one of two age categories: 5- to 9-years-old and 10- to 14-years-old. Please note that there is a pressing need to reach older children as most people pack items for younger kids, finding it easier to locate and buy age appropriate items.
Print out labels are available online or through your collection center. If you make a donation online, you can print out a label with a bar code embedded, and track the shipment of your gift. You probably won’t know who received your gift, but you’ll find out when it was delivered as well as the country where delivered.
If there isn’t a local collection center in your area, you can ship your gift to Samaritan’s Purse. Those details are available on the Operation Christmas Child splash page listed below.
References and Resources
Photos: Samaritan’s Purse