Operation Christmas Child: McDowell churches collecting for shoebox gifts

Morning distribution at Heaven's Kingdom Christian School in San Lorenzo, Paraguay.

It’s Operation Christmas Child time with National Collection Week happening in local churches in McDowell County.

The global Christmas project, Operation Christmas Child uses gift-filled shoeboxes to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 157 million shoebox gifts to children in more than 160 countries and territories. Each year, the project mobilizes more than 150,000 volunteers in the United States. Since 2010, more than 14 million children who received a shoebox gift have participated in the follow-up program, The Greatest Journey. This 12-lesson discipleship program teaches children about God’s amazing love and guides them through what it means to faithfully follow Jesus Christ.

From children to seniors, people pack shoebox gifts each year to bless children in need around the world. Parents often use the project to teach their kids about giving. Year round volunteers support these efforts across the country.

Churches and groups of all sizes collect boxes from their communities. Some churches also serve as drop-off locations for shoeboxes the third week of November every year. This year, Glenwood Baptist Church, Nebo Crossing and First Baptist Church of Old Fort will serve as drop-off locations in McDowell County.

Thousands of volunteers serve annually inspecting and preparing shoeboxes for international shipping. Every hour, work stops for a few minutes to pray for the children who will receive the boxes.

Start with an average-size cardboard of plastic shoebox. If you want to wrap it, cover the box and lid separately. Decide whether you will pack a box for a girl or a boy, and the age category: 2-4; 5-9; or 10-14. Next, selected a medium to large “wow” item such as a soccer ball with pump or stuffed animal, then fill with other fun toys, hygiene items and school supplies. And most importantly, pray for the child who will receive your gift. You can also include a personal note and photo.

Do not include candy, toothpaste, gum, used or damaged items, war-related items such as toy guns, knives or military figures, chocolate or food, seeds, fruit rolls or other fruit snacks, drink mixes, liquids or lotions, medications or vitamins, breakable items or aerosol cans.

Now you can donate online and receive a tracking label to follow your box and discover the destination of your shoebox gift. Take your shoebox gift to a local drop-off location during National Collection Week, Nov. 12-19.

You can also build a shoebox online by visiting, samaritanspurse.org and order preprinted shoeboxes.

For more information, call Judy Jackson at 828-606-3636 or Tommy Sims at 828-286-3026.

Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to victims of war, natural disasters, disease, famine, poverty, and persecution in more than 100 countries, with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His son, Jesus Christ. Headquartered in Boone, North Carolina, Samaritan’s Purse has affiliate offices in Canada, the U.K., and Australia; field offices in 17 countries; and ministry partners in more than 100 countries, including Germany.

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