Have you ever wondered if a contribution or donation you have made really makes a difference? Well according to the information provided by Samaritans’s Purse, contributions to the Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box Ministry has changed the lives of thousands of children throughout the world. Since the program began in 1993, Operation Christmas Child has now collected 86 million shoe box gifts that are distributed to needy children across the globe.
The number represents five percent of the children living in the world today under the age of 15.
Operation Christmas Child shoe box 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 2011.
The OCC program has shared that of the 8.2 million shoe boxes collected worldwide in 2010, approximately 275,000 are making their way into the hands of hurting children in Haiti, many of whom have been displaced from their homes and living in some of the most desperate conditions imaginable following last year’s devastating earthquake and other weather-related condition following the quake. Because of their service together in 2010 and through hundreds of new partnerships with local church in Haiti, over 125,000 of these children will have the opportunity to take part in The Greatest Journey, a 12-part lesson that introduces them to Jesus Christ, teaches them what it means to follow him, and ultimately how to share this exciting news with others living in the same desperate conditions. In fact, in 2011 they are anticipating nearly 1.2 million of the children receiving shoe box gifts in this exciting and life-changing discipleship program. The OCC program states that they know there are far more children to reach than shoe boxes available to place in their hands; however, the excitement behind The Greatest Journey is seeing children ultimately become “agents of mission” right in their own neighborhoods, towns, cities and villages — reaching their friends and families with the greatest news of all, into places that the shoe boxes aren’t able to reach.
The project is already under way for this year. In fact, the collection week is set for Nov. 14-21. This is the national collection week to ensure delivery to the children prior to Christmas. Grove Park Baptist Church, 609 Northeast Blvd., in Clinton has been designated as the Sampson County collection site. Kelli Weeks is directing the project 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.
Sampson County is part of the Fayetteville area which includes the counties of Robeson, Harnett, Johnston, Hoke, Cumberland Moore and Scotland. The national goal last year was 5,500,000 and the actual donated number nationally was 5,503,968. The Fayetteville area goal last year was 36,500 and they achieved at total of 36,583, a two percent increase from 2009.
“We are hoping to exceed our goal in the Fayetteville area again this year,” Weeks stressed. “We can do it if everyone who can gets involved in this rewarding ministry.”
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.
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 snowglobes or glass containers; aerosol cans.
The dates and times that the Grove Park collection site will be operating are listed below:
Monday, Nov. 14 — 1:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 15 — 6 – 8 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov 16 — 10 a.m. – noon
Thursday, Nov 17 — 6 – 8 p.m.
Friday, Nov 18 — 1:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, Nov 19 — 8 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Sunday, Nov 20 — 1 – 3 p.m. Help needed loading truck