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Each year, donations of toys, school supplies, hygiene products and notes of encouragement are requested for Operation Christmas Child (OCC), touted as “the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind.”
In Lancaster County, an ambitious goal of 7,000 gift-filled shoe boxes has been set for the community to share its love with needy children around the globe during the upcoming Christmas season.
According to its website, since 1993, the Samaritan’s Purse project, Operation Christmas Child, has collected and delivered more than 100 million gift-filled shoe boxes to children in more than 100 countries.
As the organization celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2013, OCC expects to collect another 9.8 million shoe box gifts.
County-wide shoe box collection sites for Operation Christmas Child will be open Nov. 18-25 at Second Baptist Church on Great Falls Highway in Lancaster, Crossroads Lutheran Church in Indian Land and Second Baptist Church in Kershaw.
Larry Helm, relay site coordinator for Second Baptist Church in Lancaster, stressed that showing God’s love to children around the world is the ultimate goal of Operation Christmas Child.
“Sharing a shoebox with a child somewhere in the world is showing our love for these children and this also shows them that God loves them,” he said. “Really, that’s our goal but if they come to know God’s love for them that’s way more important than our love.”
OCC gift boxes should be appropriately marked for a boy or a girl in age categories of two to four, five to nine or 10 to 14 years of age. Please include a $7 donation per box for shipping and other costs related to delivery of the shoe boxes to children overseas. Gift suggestions include:
• Toys – Dolls, toy trucks, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, jump ropes, balls, toys that light up and make noise (with extra batteries)
• School supplies – Pens, pencils and sharpeners, crayons or markers, stamps and ink pad sets, writing pads or paper, solar calculators, coloring and picture books.
• Hygiene items – Toothbrush, mild bar soap (in a plastic bag), comb and washcloth
• Accessories – T-shirts, socks, ball caps, sunglasses, hair clips, toy jewelry, watches, flashlights (with extra batteries)
• Personal note – 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.
• Do not include – Used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives or figures; chocolate, food or out-of-date candy; liquids or lotions; vitamins and over-the-counter medicines; breakable items, glass containers; aerosol cans.
Dean and Reneé Horton, relay site coordinators at Second Baptist Church in Kershaw, encourage the community to get involved with the Operation Christmas Child project and be worldwide “missionaries” without ever having to travel overseas.
“I think it’s a good project community-wide or for anybody,” Reneé Horton said. “It’s a way that we can spread God’s word through a simple shoe box and we can be missionaries here at home.”
Drop-off locations, days and times for OCC in Lancaster County during the week of Nov. 18-25 are:
• Lancaster – Second Baptist Church, 1426 Great Falls Highway: 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 18-23; 4 to 6 p.m. Nov. 24 and 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 25. Call (803) 283-2015 for details.
• Indian Land – Crossroads Lutheran Church, 8511 Shelley Mullis Road : 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 18-22; 1 to 3 p.m. Nov. 24 and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 25. Call (803) 547-8311 for details.
• Kershaw – Kershaw Second Baptist Church, 7737 Kershaw Camden Highway; 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 18, 19; 6 to 9 p.m. Nov. 20; 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 21 and 23; 6 to 9 p.m. Nov. 22; 1 to 9 p.m. Nov. 24 and 8 to 9 a.m Nov. 25. Call (803) 475-6057 for details.
Contact reporter Denyse Clark at (803) 283-1152