Start planning shoebox gifts for Operation Christmas Child

© 2017-Huron Plainsman

’Tis the season to begin planning for Operation Christmas Child by filling shoeboxes with toys and gifts in time for collection Nov. 13-19, so they can be sent on to underprivileged children around the world.
Operation Christmas Child is a project administered through Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief organization that sends teams throughout the world to provide water, food and medicine in areas in crisis. Franklin Graham, the son of evangelist Billy Graham, founded Samaritan’s Purse.
Through Operation Christmas Child, individuals, groups and churches fill ordinary shoeboxes with toys and gifts. OCC will also provide plastic bins in bright colors, a new offer this year.
Barb Woockman and Janet Sieler of Huron have been involved with promoting Operation Christmas Child for the past 17 years, and together helped Huron become a collection site six years ago.
The collection is planned at Living Hope Alliance Church, 1779 Frank Ave. S.E. Collection hours will be Nov. 13-17 from 1 to 6 p.m., Nov. 18 from 1 to 4 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 19 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
A $9 donation per box helps cover shipping cost.
Prior to being shipped to children around the world, a gospel booklet called “The Greatest Gift,” which is available in more than 75 languages, is included. Older gift recipients also receive “The Greatest Journey,” a 12-lesson program that encourages them to grow in faith.
Shoeboxes should be marked if they are for a boy or a girl in the following age brackets: 2-4, 5-9 and 10-14.
Gift ideas could include stuffed toys, foam balls, school supplies such as pens, paper, pencils and colors, personal care items, clothing and accessories, crafts and activities, yo-yo, frisbee, playing cards, tool kits, glow sticks, play dough, etc. You may also include a personal note.
Due to increasing customs regulations, no candy, liquid items or toothpaste can be sent. No war-related items such as toy guns, knives or military figures are allowed.
“For many of these children, the gift-filled shoebox is the first gift they’ve ever received,” Woockman said. “It demonstrate’s God’s love in tangible ways.”
Since Operation Christmas Child began, more than 146 million shoebox gifts have been collected and delivered to children in more than 150 countries.
Last year, Huron packed 1,321 boxes that were sent to needy children in Mexico.
“We would like to get 1,500 this year,” Woockman said. “That would be our goal.”
For more information contact Woockman at 350-1481 or Sieler at 353-9987.

Photo contributed
From left, Josie, Luke and Tess Vlieger prepare to fill their boxes for Operation Christmas Child. They are the children of Kent and Jackie Vlieger of Huron. The collection for shoebox gifts will be held Nov. 13-19 at Living Hope Alliance Church, 1779 Frank Ave. S.E.

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