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Big shoeboxes to fill

Volunteers have been busy this past week collecting shoeboxes full of toys and essentials for Operation Christmas Child.

Fredericktown Mayor Kelly Korokis signed a proclamation Sept. 26 declaring October to be Operation Christmas Child month in the City of Fredericktown.

To some it may seem too early to think about Christmas, but not to those involved with Operation Christmas Child.

Southeast Missouri Area Coordinator Barb Wilfong said the goal for the SEMO region is to collect 18,566 shoeboxes.

The SEMO region includes 18 volunteers and nine counties with eight drop off locations.

“We used to have 19 counties but we multiplied so we divided and one became the Bootheel Team and we kept the northern part and call it the SEMO Team,” Wilfong said. “SEMO loves shoeboxes so we are always really excited and as volunteers we try to get new drop-offs because whenever we do get new drop-offs we pick up more boxes because in the area it just generates more excitement.”

Wilfong said a new drop off was added in Marble Hill this year and the organization hopes to add an additional drop off in Perryville somewhere in town as compared to the current drop off at the outskirts. They would also like to add locations in Iron and Reynolds Counties.

“When we get to about 20,000 shoeboxes in one area, we will probably make another central drop off,” Wilfong said. “All of the drop offs from all around Southeast Missouri are taken to Farmington. There we load them into the trucks were they are sent to Minneapolis.”

Wilfong said shoeboxes are sent where ever the greatest need is, such as orphanages and places where natural disasters such as tsunamis and earthquakes have caused despair. 

According to the proclamation signed by Korokis Operation Christmas Child has distributed gift-filled shoeboxes to needy children throughout the world since 1993 and last year delivered nearly 11 million to nearly 100 countries.

The proclamation reads, “Operation Christmas Child not only touches the lives of these children in need around the world, but also gives the opportunity for our children to learn about those less fortunate throughout the world, and to participate by giving and sharing and sending a personalized box filled with care.”

National collection week was Nov. 12-19, and the local drop off location, First Baptist Church in Fredericktown, was full of busy volunteers carrying in hundreds of donated boxes.

Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. Since 1993, the program has delivered gift-filled shoeboxes to more than 124 million children in more than 150 countries and territories over its 25 years.

It all starts with a shoebox. Next, it is decided if the box is for a boy or a girl and which age category they fall into, 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14 years old. Once an age range and gender is chosen items are selected to fill the box.

Boxes included a “wow” item such as a soccer ball with pump or a stuffed animal and then fill in with other fun toys, hygiene items and school supplies.

If you missed the collection deadline and would still like to be involved, www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child offers several options of ways to donate and volunteer year round.

Volunteers are surrounded by more than 500 shoeboxes donated in just hours from local churches.

Volunteers are surrounded by more than 500 shoeboxes donated in just hours from local churches.

Volunteers carry in hundreds of shoeboxes to be stacked and sorted.

Volunteers carry in hundreds of shoeboxes to be stacked and sorted.

Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Democrat News. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at vkemper@democratnewsonline.com

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