SIDNEY — When is a shoebox not a shoebox?
When it’s filled with to the brim with items that we take for granted everyday. Then it become a Christmas present for a child around the world from Sidney.
Operation Christmas Child, sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse, is the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind. Families, churches and groups pack shoeboxes to be delivered to children around the world.
This week, Nov. 16-23, is National Collection Week. Collections sites include Sidney Baptist Church, 1322 E. Court St., Sidney, and Faith Alliance Church, 06670 New Knoxville Ave., New Bremen.
“Through the simple act of filling a shoebox, someone in Sidney can make a tangible difference in the life of a child halfway around the world. Anyone can participate and bring joy to a child facing difficult circumstances,” said Regional Manager David Zimmerman.
Stephanie Wilson is the coordinator of the collection site at Sidney Baptist Church. For members of the congregation, this is more than just a one-week project, it’s an ongoing one throughout the year.
“This is the seventh year the church has been involved in the project,” said Wilson. “All the shoeboxes are filled with donations. Local churches, community members and volunteers all help pack the shoeboxes.”
Wilson said community members and other churches will bring their shoeboxes to Sidney Baptist this week. From Sidney, the shoeboxes will be taken to Lima and then delivered around the world.
“We held our packing party last Wednesday,” said Wilson. “Throughout the year, we have an item of the month. Church members bring the items in for the shoeboxes. One month it might be crayons, another month toothbrushes.
“There are certain items that can be put in the shoeboxes and others that can’t,” she said.
Sunday school class members and the congregation participated in the packing party. The church does 100-125 shoeboxes each year.
“All the kids and adults pack the shoeboxes. We pack as many boxes as we can (with donated items),” said Wilson. “Some individuals donate money for the shipping or bring in their own shoeboxes already packed.”
Wilson said they have turned Operation Christmas Child into a learning experience for the children who attend church.
“We have a video which we show the children and that explains what this (shoebox) is for,” said Wilson. “We try to instill the importance of the program year after year with the children.
“We want the young kids to understand the significance of what they are doing.”
Last year, the church collected 1,251 shoeboxes during collection week.
And it’s not too late to pack a shoebox and bring it to the church by Nov. 23, said Wilson. Packing instructions are available at http://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/pack-a-shoe-box/.
Steps to packing a shoebox include:
• Find a shoebox. If you want to wrap it, cover the box and lid separately.
• Select a boy or girl. Then decide on the age category you’d like to help.
• Select a quality “wow” toy such as a doll, soccer ball with a pump or stuffed animal. Add other fun toys, hygiene items and school supplies.
• Drop off the shoebox at a collection site from Nov. 16-23.
Full shoeboxes can be dropped off at Sidney Baptist on Nov. 16-20 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.; on Nov. 21 from 10 a.m. to noon, Nov. 22 from 1 to 3 p.m. and Nov. 23 from 9 to 11 a.m.
Collection times at Faith Alliance Church are Nov. 16, 17 and 19 from 6 to 8 p.m., Nov. 18, 20 and 21, from 10 a.m. to noon, Nov. 22 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. and Nov. 23 from 6 to 8 a.m.
Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has delivered gift-filled shoeboxes to more than 124 million children in more than 150 countries and territories. For many of these children, a gift-filled shoebox is the first gift they have ever received.
For more information about how to participate in Operation Christmas Child call 937-374-0761. With a computer or mobile device, anyone can conveniently pack a personalized Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift on the Samaritan’s Purse website. Go to samaritanspurse.org/occ to select toys and gift items, write a note of encouragement and “pack” them in a shoebox. These gifts of hope will go to children in some of the hardest-to-reach countries.
Using special tracking technology, participants can follow their box to discover where in the world their gift is delivered by using the donation form found at samaritanspurse.org/occ.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.