Collection week is underway.
Volunteers for the Samaritan's Purse annual Operation Christmas Child collection program were hard at work this week gathering shoeboxes to be sent to children in need.
According to Patti Seth at Pleasant Community Church, the program had already received more than 132 shoeboxes full of gifts by 4 p.m. Monday afternoon, only an hour after collection week kicked off.
Photo by Jacob Perryman
Gift of giving
Patti Seth, left, is handed a gift shoebox by fellow Operation Christmas Child volunteer Debi Sprague while Tom Seth and Vince Sprague wait in line at Pleasant Community Church on Monday. The program continued to collect gifts throughout the week with a total goal of 4,300 shoeboxes.
Seth said volunteers hope to take in 4,300 shoeboxes this year at the church. Worldwide, the program has a goal of collecting 9.1 million shoeboxes.
Through Operation Christmas Child, Samaritan's Purse has provided tens of millions of shoeboxes full of gifts to impoverished children around the world.
According to program literature provided by Seth, donors must choose whether they will provide a gift for a boy or a girl and choose from child-age ranges of two to four, five to nine or ten to 14 years old. They can then take a standard size shoebox or plastic container and fill it with gifts to be sent to the child. Wrapping the boxes is optional, but donors are asked to wrap the lid separately. Donors should then place a rubber band around each closed shoebox and take it to local collection center or mail it to Samaritan's Purse, 801 Bamboo Rd., Boone, N.C. 28607.
Samaritan's Purse requests donors include an additional $7 donation either in their box or by going online at www.samaritanspurse.org/occ.
In Warren County, Pleasant Community Church is the official collection center, but it also serves a larger purpose. The church started working with the program as a relay center in 1999, just six years after the program was created. In 2009, the church became a regional collection point.
"We collect for churches throughout Warren County," Seth said. "We're also a collection point for relay centers in Corry, Bradford, Coudersport and Emporium."
According to Seth, the relay centers provide a local option close at hand for drop-offs, which are then brought to Pleasant Community Church before being sent on to the program distribution center in Boone.
"Sometime next spring, since they do the distribution after the first of the year, they'll deliver the 100 millionth shoebox," Seth said. "To me it's just amazing."
Seth related seeing a video of a child who received a shoebox and was so excited by the gift he was jumping up and down without ever looking inside the box.
"His face just lit up," Seth said. "These kids don't get gifts. It makes a world of difference. If we're going to change the world it's going to be one child at a time ,and a shoebox can do that."
Samaritan's Purse suggests the following gifts to be included in shoeboxes:
School supplies: Pens, pencils, pencil sharpeners, crayons, markers, stamp and ink pad sets, writing pads, paper, solar calculators, coloring books and picture books
Toys: Small cars, balls, dolls, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, jump ropes, small Etch-A-Sketches, toys that light up or make noise (with extra batteries) and Slinkies
Hygiene items: Toothbrushes, toothpaste, mild bar soaps (in a plastic bag), combs and washcloths
Other: T-shirts, ball caps, sunglasses, hair clips, toy jewelry, watches and flashlights (with extra batteries)
A personal note, with a name and address for possible correspondence if desired
Samaritan's Purse suggests donors pray for guidance when filling the boxes, a sentiment Seth agreed with.
"We just figure, more than anything, the person is guided as to what to put into the shoebox," Seth said.
More information on Operation Christmas Child, including information on drop-off locations, is available at the program website or by calling 1-800-353-5949.
More information on the program locally can be obtained by calling Seth at 723-2285 or Pleasant Community Church at 723-7730.