It is hard to believe that the holiday season is upon us. In that light, Samaritans’s Purse Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box Ministry is kicking off in full force at area churches. Two local churches are expanding this ministry by serving as regional dropoff locations. Both Grove Park Baptist Church, located at 609 N.E. Blvd., Clinton and Unity Presbyterian Church, located at 11551 N.C. Hwy 50 S., Newton Grove, have volunteered to serve as the collection points.
Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box Ministry is a part of the Samaritan’s Purse Ministry and has contributed to the change in the lives of thousands of children throughout the world. Since the program began in 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected well over 86 million shoe box gifts that are distributed to needy children across the globe. The ministry shared that just one shoe box has the capability of reaching many with the gospel message. Though it is impossible to know the true impact Operation Christmas Child has had in advancing the gospel to the far corners of the earth, it is clear that over eight million children, their parents, communities and entire countries will be impacted by the power of a ‘simple gift’ once more in 2012.
The Operation Christmas Child website reports that since 1993, over 95 million shoe box gifts have been delivered to children in over 130 countries. The gifts provide tangible evidence of God’s love and often open doors to tell boys and girls and their families about salvation through Jesus Christ.
In 2012, Operation Christmas Child expects to reach a milestone — collecting and delivering shoe boxes to more than 100 million children since 1993. This year, Operation Christmas Child hopes to collect another 9 million gift-filled shoe boxes. Through the power of a simple gift and the message of hope through Jesus Christ, children learn they are loved and not forgotten. For many children, the shoe box gift will be the first gift they have ever received.
“These kids have never had a gift like this and when we can give a gift and give it in the name of Jesus Christ, it means everything in the world,“ expressed Franklin Graham in a statement.
This divine project could not be done without the help of Christians all over the world, who lovingly pack shoe box gifts and volunteer to be staff dropoff locations and work at processing centers to inspect the boxes and prepare them for shipping.
Thanks to diligent workers and God’s help, Operation Christmas Child expects to reach a significant milestone this year — the 100 millionth shoe box gift packed and distributed since they started this project 19 years ago.
God has blessed the program because it is more than just giving a child a gift. These shoe boxes packed by people like you are making eternal impacts on children’s lives.
Many children are given the opportunity to enroll in a 12-week discipleship course called “The Greatest Journey” after they receive their shoe box gift. This curriculum, offered in more than 60 countries, brings Bible stories and the truth of God’s Word to life through brightly colored illustrations and easy-to-understand text. After completing the course, the children graduate, receiving a certificate and a Bible.
“I have seen how the spark has been lit here in these churches and this is just the beginning of it,” said Cissie Graham Lynch, Franklin Graham’s daughter, through Samaritan Purse press releases. “God is using the Greatest Journey as a discipleship program, and these kids are responding to it. They can go on to proclaim Christ in their country. It’s not that you just give a box and walk away. These are long-term spiritual effects that we’re making on these communities and these countries.”
The impact of Operation Christmas Child doesn’t just affect one child’s life, it changes the lives of whole families, communities and even countries. Find out how you can get involved during National Collection Week Nov. 12-19.
The project is already under way for this year. The upcoming week is the national collection week to ensure delivery to the children prior to Christmas. Kelli Weeks is directing the project at Grove Park, and would like to invite anyone to volunteer to help in the collection of the shoe boxes at the church.
“This is housed at Grove Park but it is not the church’s project alone. I want everyone to know this is the local place to drop off their boxes and that volunteers are not limited to Grove Park. This is God’s mission and all His children can help. If anyone wants to volunteer or has questions they can contact me and I will be glad to help. Collecting and preparing the boxes for shipment is a big job and we need some strong people to help loading the truck as well,” asserted Weeks. Weeks can be contacted by phone at 596-1184.
Rebecca O’Dell is the sponsor at Unity for her second year as coordinator. O’Dell can be reached by calling 910-594-1270.
“I have worked many years with this ministry and when the other church that was serving as the collection site decided it did not wish to continue as a site, I encouraged our church to become the collection site. Last year we collected over 100 from our church. Our cite collected over 600 boxes. We are hoping that the numbers will be much higher this year,” remarked O’Dell.
The Newton Grove collection site at Unity Presbyterian Church are as follows: Monday, Nov. 12: 9 - 11 a.m.; Tuesday, Nov. 13: 4:30 - 6:30 p.m.; Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2 - 4 p.m.; Thursday, Nov. 15: 2 - 4 p.m.; Friday, Nov. 16: 1 - 7 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 17: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 18: 12:30 - 4:30 p.m.; and Monday, Nov. 19: 9 - 10 a.m.
“This ministry does not cost a lot and it is a wonderful way to spread God’s word,” cited O’Dell.
“We are hoping to exceed our goal in the area again this year,” Weeks stressed. “We can do it if everyone who can gets involved in this rewarding ministry.”
The Grove Park collection site will operate on the following schedule next week:
Monday, Nov. 12: 2:00 – 5:30 p.m.; Tuesday, Nov. 13: 6 - 8 p.m.; Wednesday, Nov. 14: 9 a.m. – noon; Thursday, Nov.15: 6 - 8 p.m.: Friday, Nov. 16: 2 - 5:30 p.m.: Saturday, Nov. 17: 9 - 11 a.m.; Sunday, Nov. 18: 1 - 3 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 19: 9 - 11 a.m.
What goes in the shoe box and how do I pack one, you might ask? This is how to pack a shoe box as requested by Operation Christmas Child. Use a empty standard size, or a small plastic container. You can wrap the box (lid separately), but wrapping is not required. Most importantly, pray for the child who will receive your gift. Indicate if your box is for a boy or girl and mark the child’s age category: 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14 on top of the box. Operation Christmas Child will also provide boxes if requested.
What do you include in the shoe boxes? Toys such as small cars, balls, dolls, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, jump ropes, small Etch A Sketch®, toys that light up or make noise (with extra batteries), Slinky®, etc.; school supplies, pens, pencils and sharpener, crayons or markers, stamps and ink pad sets, writing pads or paper, solar calculators, coloring and picture books, etc.; hygiene items, toothbrush, toothpaste, mild bar soap (in a plastic bag), comb, washcloth, etc. Other items like hard candy and lollipops (please double bag all candy), mints, gum, T-shirts, socks, ball caps; sunglasses, hair clips, toy jewelry, watches, flashlights (with extra batteries). In a separate envelope, 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.
Please 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 such as snow globes or glass containers; aerosol cans.
Additional local collection sites can be found using the online zip code locator at www.samaritanspurse.org.