Fall is here – and with it comes Shoe Box packing time for Operation Christmas Child! Every year thousands of people around the world pack a plastic (or cardboard) shoe box filled with treasures and love.
Imagine for a moment how thrilled you would be if someone you had never met and who lived in a far off country sent a gift to you. Consider the awe and wonder of seeing the items in your box for the very first time! An Incredible, awesome expression of care for a child.
What is Operation Christmas Child?
These shoe boxes are collected in local communities like our own (Topsail / Onslow) and distributed all around the world in hard to reach, poverty stricken forgotten villages by the non-profit organization Samaritan’s Purse.
In these villages around the world, the boxes arrive at local churches who hold a Shoe Box distribution. Every child is invited. For many of these children it is the first and perhaps only gift they will receive in their lifetime. Samaritan’s Purse has a goal to reach all 1,000 islands in the South Pacific in the next few years.
Who can deny the glowing happy face of a child holding their shoe box? What is in these boxes that makes them special?
What’s In A Shoe box?
The answer is easy – the boxes are filled with LOVE. Boxes are packed for either a girl or a boy and is divided by ages. For example, you can fill a shoebox for a boy age 2-4 or a girl age 10-14. It is up to everyone to choose the age range and sex of the child for whom the box is packed. Each box is packed with a WOW item such as a soccer ball, or a doll.
Step by step directions on How to Pack a shoebox is on the website. Follow this link.
Then the box is crammed with all kinds of other items such as:
- crayons and coloring books
- water purifier such as a Lifewater straw
- school supplies, pens and pencils, markers, calculator pencil box, eraser
- hygiene items such as a toothbrush, soap, hairbrush.
- Games, jigsaw puzzles, hacky sacks
- Flip Flops or shoes. Having footwear enables children to attend school. An organization called Because International has created The Shoe That Grows. This shoe is a sandal that expands five different sizes and lasts for years.
Add A Note!
It is especially important to add a note to the child who will receive your box, and perhaps even a family photo. We always include a family picture with a note. Younger children can draw a picture of their family including their pets and put in the shoebox!
Distribution of a Shoe Box
Once the packages travel all the way to the South Pacific, the children will gather for a shoebox distribution. The packages travel by plane, boat, raft, and in some remote desert locations even by Camels! It is a day filled with excitement for the children and their families.
After the shoe boxes are distributed, the children receive an invitation to attend a bible class called “The Greatest Journey” at their local church. Their local pastors and leaders teach them about Jesus, and teachings to love one another. This year packing these shoeboxes are more important than ever, teaching our own children about sharing, kindness, respect for all humanity and most importantly love.
How to Get Involved
During the COVID-19 pandemic many lives have been turned upside down. The normal that our children experience of going to school and activities was curtailed for many months. Even traditional Birthday parties were cancelled! This situation has emphasized how important it is to love our neighbor even if they are thousands of miles from here.
If you are looking for a way to share some love with a child thousands of miles away, please consider packing a shoebox.
Topsail / Onslow area:
In our Topsail / Onslow area, we have several churches who participate in Operation Christmas Child and are good places to get some more information. Some churches are:
- Emma Anderson Chapel (Topsail) – www.eachapel.org
- The Gathering (Surf City) – https://www.thegatheringsurfcity.com/
- North Topsail Baptist Church- http://www.ntsbcfamily.com/
- Sneads Ferry OFW Baptist – https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Baptist-Church/Sneads-Ferry-Original-Free-Will-Baptist-Church-236138145651/
- Salem Baptist – http://www.salembaptistsf.com/
- Sneads Ferry Presbyterian – https://www.sfpresbyterian.com/
New River Community Church of God not only packs shoeboxes but serves as our collection point during national collection week November 16-23, 2020. You can drop off your shoebox to them during the day. https://nrccog.org/
If you do not live here in our local community of Topsail you can also go online to pack a shoebox.
You can also look up a distribution center in your hometown using your zip code on the Samaritan’s Purse website. Drop off center locations will be available mid-October.
Track a Shoe Box
After your box is packed you can go online to Samaritan’s Purse to create a label to track your box.
Once your shoebox is sent on its way you can “Follow Your Box” with this automated tracking label. It is so exciting to see the country where your box ends! In some extremely sensitive areas, the box locations are not made public in order to protect the recipients.