Area churches and individuals soon will begin stuffing shoeboxes with “wow” gifts, school supplies and personal items so children in poor and war-torn countries may celebrate Christmas. In Richmond County, Ellerbe Baptist Church will coordinate the effort, called Operation Christmas Child.
The program is one of many run by the international Samaritan’s Purse organization and is designed to spread holiday cheer accompanied by a religious message. Each “shoebox” full of gifts contains a personal note from its donor, as well a Gospel message. Those who donate also are encouraged to pray for the eventual recipients.
“(Churches) may bring 30, they may bring five, they may bring hundreds” of shoeboxes to the Richmond County collection point at Ellerbe First Baptist, said team leader Elsie Freeman. Collection week this year will be Nov. 13-20.
Donors “take a shoebox (and) fill the box up with all these goodies,” Freeman said Wednesday. Then they drop off the shoeboxes at their churches to be taken to Ellerbe First Baptist, which has led the local program for five years.
Samaritan’s purse labels each box to designate its intended donor — a boy or girl 2 to 4, 5 to 9 or 10 to 14.
The organization suggests that each box contain one “wow” toy, as well as other toys, hygiene items and school supplies — but not candy or toothpaste, both of which make for unhealthy eating.
An accompanying $9 donation covers shipping and other program costs, and makes it possible for a donor to know where his box will be delivered.
Most boxes travel the world, although some have been delivered within the United States after devastating weather events, Freeman said. This year may be such a year because of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
Those who want more information on the local drive for Operation Christmas Child may contact Freeman at 910-817-4720 or visit www.samaritanspurse.org and click on the link to Operation Christmas Child.
Boxes may be dropped off at Ellerbe First Baptist Church, 2116 Main St., Ellerbe, at the following times: 3-7 p.m. Monday through Friday, Nov. 13-17; 2-7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18; 3-7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 19; and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Nov. 20.
Those who miss a drop-off deadline or need a personal drop-off time may call Freeman or email her at email@example.com.