Barb Woockman, left, and Janet Sieler are coordinators for the Huron area collection site for Operation Christmas Child, a Samaritan’s Purse program that distributes Christmas gifts packaged in shoe boxes to underprivileged children around the world. In the next photo, Huron Christian Church youth are shown last year putting together shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. And next, Alex Nsengimana, who grew up in an African orphanage, received one of 28,000 shoe box gifts distributed by Operation Christmas Child 20 years ago. He said it was a changing point in his life, leading him to give his life to Christ. This past year, Nsengimana returned to his village in Rwanda with Samaritan’s Purse to help hand out shoe box gifts in the orphanage where he was raised. PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED
Opening a colorfully wrapped shoe box and finding toys, school supplies and other surprises sends a powerful message to an impoverished child — someone cares.
It’s a message Franklin Graham at Samaritan’s Purse has been working to send to children around the world for the past 20 years through the organization’s program, Operation Christmas Child.
Each box also contains a gospel message, “The Greatest Journey,” a follow-up program to Operation Christmas Child that teaches children to become faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Children enroll in a 12-lesson discipleship program that introduces them to salvation through faith in Christ and encourages them to grow in their faith.
Shoe box gifts have been distributed to 148 countries since 1993, with more than 2.8 million children participating in The Greatest Journey discipleship program since 2009.
Last year, the Huron area collected almost 1,000 boxes for the program.
“We would like to have a goal of 1,200 or more this year,” said Barb Woockman, who is coordinator for the Huron collection site along with Janet Sieler. “In the past 20 years Operation Christmas Child has distributed more than 100 million boxes to needy children worldwide.”
Boxes collected in South Dakota are destined for delivery in Mexico, Togo, Guyana and Native Americans in the United States.
“I see a new generation of children growing up in the midst of fighting, poverty, hunger and epidemics,” Franklin Graham said in a release about OCC. “It’s amazing to see how God can use a simple shoe box given in the name of Jesus, packed with prayer and filled to the brim with fun and colorful toys.
“Remember: One more shoe box represents one more opportunity to introduce a child to Christ,” he said.
Samaritan’s Purse has a goal of sending 10 million boxes to children this Christmas. Nationwide there are expected to be 3,800 collection sites like Huron’s to gather shoe box gifts.
To take part in this project, use an empty shoe box and determine the age and gender of the child you would like to provide gifts for. Mark the correct age category (2-4, 5-9, or 10-14) and the child’s gender on the box and fill it up!
Include items that children will immediately embrace such as dolls, toy trucks, stuffed animals, candy, harmonicas, balls, or toys that light up and make noise — along with extra batteries.
School supplies are always welcome, as well as hygiene items such as toothbrushes, combs, washcloths, etc.
Other ideas include T-shirts, socks, ball caps, sunglasses, toy jewelry, hair clips, watches or flashlights — with extra batteries.
Please do not give used or damaged items, war-related items or military figures, liquids, lotions, food or breakable items.
Each shoe box gift must be accompanied by a $7 donation to help cover shipping and other costs incurred to deliver it.
Place a rubber band around each closed shoe box and drop it off at the collection site.
For more information call Sieler at 353-9987 or Woockman at 353-1013.
For the complete article see the 10-27-2013 issue.
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