Mission: Fill, ship shoeboxes laden with gifts to disadvantaged children

Robin Richard, collections center coordinator for First Baptist Church of Morgan City, stands Tuesday in the church’s fellowship hall where hundreds of items have been collected for this year’s Operation Christmas Child project. Churches and ministries partner with Samaritan’s Purse International Relief to bring shoe boxes full of gifts to children around the world during the holiday season. Richard said First Baptist Church of Morgan City will have a packing party at 6 p.m. Nov 14. Anyone who would like to donate supplies can do so between Nov. 18 to 25. Those wanting to participate can pack a regular shoe box and include $7 for postage then drop off to the church. Types of items accepted include personal hygiene items, toys and school supplies. For more information, call 985-384-5920. (Photo by Courtney Darce)

This is a great tool to show children around the world that we love them and that God loves them.
By PRESTON GILL pgill@daily-review.com

The community is invited to join the efforts of First Baptist Church members here who have been collecting gift items to stuff into shoeboxes and send to disadvantaged children in over 100 countries.
Robin Richard, the collection center coordinator at the church said Operation Christmas Child is the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind and is making Christmas a reality for needy children around the world by filling shoeboxes with toys, school supplies, hygiene items and notes of encouragement.
The First Baptist Church collection site at 1915 Victor II Boulevard will be open during Operation Christmas Child’s National Collection Week, which is Nov. 18 to 25. Prior to that, the church will have its own “packing party” Nov. 14 to put all the items it has collected this year into shoeboxes.
“This is a great tool to show children around the world that we love them and that God loves them,” Richard said.
Richard said the Morgan City church has been involved in the program for 11 years. The goal at the church is to fill 1,200 boxes and to have a total of 4,000 gift-filled shoeboxes filled by the collection center, she said. Richard added that the church exceeded its goal of 1,000 last year by filling 1,170 boxes and that 3,741 boxes were packed and shipped throughout the area by the church collection center to the main distribution in Boone, N.C.
Richard said anyone can get a box from the church or use their own shoebox to fill up and drop off at the church to send to a child overseas. Then using whatever means necessary — trucks, trains, boats, bikes and even elephants — the shoebox gifts will be delivered to children worldwide. She said the shoebox gift will be the first gift many children have ever received.
While the contents of the box are determined by each gift-giver, the following suggestions are given by the Operation Christmas Child website:
—Toys: Include items that children will immediately embrace such as dolls, toy trucks, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, jump ropes, balls, toys that light up and make noise (with extra batteries).
—School supplies: Pens, pencils and sharpeners, crayons or markers, stamps and ink pad sets, writing pads or paper, solar calculators, coloring and picture books.
—Hygiene items: Toothbrush, mild bar soap (in a plastic bag), comb, washcloth.
—Accessories: T-shirts, socks, ball caps, sunglasses, hair clips, toy jewelry, watches, flashlights (with extra batteries).
—You may enclose a note to the child and a photo of yourself or your family. If you include your name and address, the child may write back.
—Do not include used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives or military figures; chocolate or food; out-of-date candy; liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items; aerosol cans.
The operating hours for collection at the church during the week from Nov. 18 to 22 are from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The weekend collection hours are Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The collection concludes on Nov. 25 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Though the shoebox gifts will often travel thousands of miles, Operation Christmas Child offers a way for participants to follow their box, by using the donation form found at samaritanspurse.org. Donors will receive an email telling the country where their shoeboxes are delivered.
Richard said Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 100 million shoebox gifts to children since 1993.
Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, Richard said.
The Samaritan’s Purse website said it is a nondenominational, evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, it has helped victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ.
For additional information about Operation Christmas Child, visit samaritanspurse.org.

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