While most people in the United States are preparing for holiday activities, the Sacramento region volunteers with Operation Christmas Child — the world’s largest Christmas project — are collecting shoe boxes during the week of Nov.12 to 19, that are filled with toys, school supplies and hygiene items for needy children overseas.
This year-round project is ramping up as local families, businesses, churches, and community groups prepare 50,000 gift-filled shoe boxes.
For many children who receive a shoe box, it will be the first and possibly the last, gift that they will ever receive.
The shoe box packing effort, which requires months of organization and preparation, is expected to bless more than 9 million children this year.
The children who receive gift-filled boxes have virtually nothing and are often suffering the effects of natural disasters, disease, war, terrorism, famine and poverty.
In 2012, Operation Christmas Child anticipates reaching a milestone — collecting and delivering shoe boxes to more than 100 million children since the project began in 1993.
The Sacramento Region is one of the largest collection systems in the three western states, with over 42,000 shoe boxes collected in 2011 and a goal of 50,000 gift-filled shoe boxes for 2012.
To pack a shoe box gift, use an empty standard shoe box or a small plastic container. Print out the appropriate boy or girl label from the Website occnorcal.org, marking the age category on the label. Tape the label to the top of the box. Fill the box with a variety of gifts such as toys and stuffed animals, school supplies, hygiene items, flip-flops, sunglasses, shoes, socks, gum, T-shirts, or other items as suggested on the Website. Donors can include a personal note to the child in a separate envelope.
Operation Christmas Child asks donors to donate $7 or more for each shoe box they prepare to help cover shipping and other project costs.
Donors can give online by using the “Follow Your Box Donation” option on the Samaritan’s Purse/OCC Website or write a check to Samaritan’s Purse (note “OCC” on memo line) and place it in an envelope on top of the gift items inside the box.
If preparing more than one shoe box, donors can write one check for all boxes prepared and place it in one of the boxes. Place a rubber band around each closed shoe box and drop it off at the nearest relay center location.
Information, gift suggestions, drop-off locations and hours may be found at occnorcal.org or call 916-783-3838.