WAGRAM — The giving season is upon us and returning this year to the local area is Operation Christmas Child, where individuals, churches, organizations and businesses in the county get busy with filling shoeboxes for children across the world.
The program is a project of Samaritan’s Purse and, last year, almost 2,000 shoeboxes were collected in Scotland County. Starting on Monday, volunteers will begin collecting the boxes at Spring Hill Baptist Church, which will kick off with a ribbon-cutting.
“Samaritan’s Purse collects shoebox gifts filled with school supplies, hygiene items, and fun toys and delivers them around the world,” said Drop-off Location Director Linda Marshall. “When our community participates in this project, it is giving us an opportunity to demonstrate God’s love with others around the world and to impact children in need. Christmas is about giving and we can share our blessings with the children of the world through a simple shoebox.”
Those who wish to participate will also select an age range and gender for the child they’re going to be delivering the box to, with the age ranges being from 2 to 4, 5 to 9 and 10 to 14. Marshall added that in years past the age range that has seen the most boxes is the 5 to 9 and the 10 to 14 usually receives the smallest number of boxes.
“Select a quality ‘wow’ item such as a doll, soccer ball with pump, or a stuffed animal,” Marshall suggested for the boxes. “Fill with other fun toys, hygiene items, and school supplies. Do not include candy, toothpaste, used or damaged items, war-related toys, breakables, food or liquids.”
A $9 donation also provides for The Greatest Gift Gospel booklet printed in the language of the child it will go to and for shipping costs. She added for ideas to fill the box participants can go to Samaritan’s Purse’s website under Operation Christmas Child gift suggestions.
“Most of the items placed in the shoeboxes are purchased from the dollar stores,” Marshall said. “For the children receiving the shoeboxes, the simplest of gifts mean a lot.”
Those interested in participating can start with a regular size shoebox, a plastic shoebox or the pre-printed boxes. The pre-printed boxes are available online but also at Living Water Christian Bookstore in Laurinburg.
“By filling a shoebox, you have the opportunity to impact the life of a child in a country you would never have the opportunity to visit,” Marshall said. “The gift-filled shoebox demonstrates God’s love in a tangible way, and for many children, are their first gift ever. The unexpected gift delights and sparks hope in the life of a child as they hear of Jesus’ love for them. Also, the effect of the shoebox extends past the child that receives it and, in many cases, touches the lives of family members and people in the village.
“Just imagine the looks on the children’s faces when they open their shoebox and realize it is just for them,” she added.
Marshall added that the drop-off location will be open different time’s every day but if someone is unable to bring the box to a Wagram there is the option of someone coming to pick it up just contact a volunteer.
The program is also still looking for volunteers to help at the Wagram drop-off location and the entire program is volunteer-based. She added there are also other ways to be involved in the program.
“You can volunteer year-round in your community to promote the project, you can get your church, civic group or business involved by filling shoeboxes,” Marshall said. “You can help during National Collection Week at a drop-off location. You can help at one of eight Processing Centers around the country to prepare shoebox gifts for international delivery. The closest center to us is in Charlotte.”
For information and drop-off times, call Spring Hill Baptist Church at 910-369-2335 or Marshall at 910-506-4179 and samaritanspurse.org/occ.
Reach Katelin Gandee at 910-506-3171 or at [email protected]