We all have them. For some, they continue to accumulate as new fashionable trends lead way to countless shopping excursions. For others, they become personal treasure chests filled with trading cards, pictures or old recipes passed down through generations. This holiday season the shoe box is lending itself to yet another cause.
Operation Christmas Child is a program focused on bringing joy to underprivileged children in the world through simple gifts packaged neatly in a shoe box. Initially conceptualized in 1990 by a husband and wife living in Wales, the program was later adopted by Franklin Graham, International President of Samaritan’s Purse, in 1993 and has successfully delivered over 100 million boxes to children in more than 130 countries.
Green Valley Community Church, 3500 Missouri Flat Road in Placerville, is in its fourth year of collecting shoe box gifts from community members for Operation Christmas Child.
Judi Miller, finance manager for the church, championed the program four years ago and has been instrumental in its continuous blossoming.
“It is an amazing project because it touches so many children,” Miller said. “It’s so easy to do and it’s so much fun.”
Green Valley Community Church is reaching out to members of the community and encouraging them to take part in this program. The church will be collecting shoe box gifts through Nov. 17.
What should go into a shoe box gift?
Think simple, fun, small items like coloring books and crayons, hygienic items, school supplies or little toys and games. Including a personal note is also encouraged and will make the shoe box gift even more special.
“Most of the children have never received a gift of any kind in their entire life,” Miller said.
It is a simple and inexpensive gift to assemble, yet brings more joy to the children than most can probably imagine.
Every shoe box the church receives will eventually end up in Southern California where they are inspected.
A booklet will also be placed into each box to tell the child about Jesus and His love for the child. These booklets are translated into the language of the country in which the child lives.
Boxes are delivered to churches and ministry partners in more than 130 countries where they are then distributed to the children.
With a National Collection Week deadline of Nov. 25, those in the community who wish to assemble any shoe box gifts must get them to Green Valley Community Church no later than Sunday, Nov. 17.
Donors are encouraged to visit the Samaritan’s Purse Website at samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child to learn more about the program and the steps involved in putting together a shoe box gift.
The organization also asks for a $7 donation to help with shipping costs. If this donation is made online, you are able to track your package and find out where it eventually ends up.
“I had a couple of my boxes last year go to Mongolia and one to Indonesia. It’s kind of neat to find out where they go,” Miller said.
The Website also has more suggestions for items to include in the box as well as what not to include such as chocolates, liquids or breakables.
Any boxes received after Nov. 17 will be kept until next year’s program.
This local Operation Christmas Child program has grown at a rapid rate, collecting 500 boxes the first year, 932 the second and 1,372 last year. This year the goal is 2,000 shoe boxes.
“It is just amazing the life-changing stories that this little shoe box creates,” Miller said.
A little goes a long way and knowing that so much joy is found in a simple shoe box filled with items we may take for granted daily makes the true cost of this program priceless.