• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Operation Christmas Child collecting gifts for children


OPERATION CHRISTMAS Child shoebox gifts were sorted by Joan Mazuruk and other volunteers at First Christian Church last November. This year’s collection week began Monday and will continue through next Monday, Nov. 19, at the First Christian Church Life Center, 160 Lexington Street in Versailles. (Photo submitted)

Local churches are once again getting behind Operation Christmas Child, a worldwide effort to deliver gifts to children affected by war, disease, disaster, poverty and famine.

Shoeboxes filled with school supplies, toiletries and toys may be dropped off at the First Christian Church Life Center, 160 Lexington Street in downtown Versailles, according to drop-off center coordinator Sandi Baker. Donors may choose to give a shoebox gift to a boy or girl in three age groups: 2 to 4, 5 to 9 and 10 to 14.

The First Christian Church drop-off center will be open today, Thursday, Nov. 15, and Friday, Nov. 16, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 17, from 10 a.m. to noon; Sunday, Nov. 18, from 12:30 to 3 p.m.; and Monday, Nov. 19, from 9 to 11 a.m.

Baker said many other churches in the community will bring their donations to the drop off site. Local churches donated 1,364 shoebox gifts to Operation Christmas Child last year, she said.

“For some children,” explained Baker, “this is the only gift in their lifetime that they will receive.”

A project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization, Operation Christmas Child hopes to collect enough shoebox gifts to reach 11 million children around the world, according to its website.

People who donate $9 per shoebox gift online through “Follow Your Box” will receive a tracking label to discover its destination, the website stated. Baker said her shoebox gifts have been received by children in Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Uganda and Malaysia, “so they are all over the world.”

Shoeboxes are also sent to children in undisclosed locations “because the whole idea is to spread the gospel (and give them) the opportunity to learn more about Jesus Christ …,” said Baker.

Donations are accepted during the third week of November each year. This year’s collection week began Monday and will continue through next Monday, Nov. 19, at the First Christian Church Life Center.

Baker and her husband, Ron, have been members of First Christian Church for 32 years. During Operation Christmas Child, “He’s my ‘volun-told’ volunteer,” she said.

For more information about Operation Christmas Child or to make a donation, visit samaritanspurse.org online. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 157 million shoeboxes to children in more than 160 countries and territories, according to the organization’s website.

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