Operation Christmas Child is in full swing. Volunteers have been busy since Monday collecting shoeboxes at Cowboy Church in Fredericktown.
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 filled in with other fun toys, hygiene items and school supplies.
“People can still bring boxes until Monday (Nov. 25),” Fredericktown Drop-off Leader Robin Lang said. “What goes in it, a hygiene item such as bar soap, wash cloth, toothbrush; school supplies, stick glue, pencils, erasers, small notebooks, pens, crayons; and a wow gift, something they can keep like a stuffed animal. That is all it takes.”
Lang said this is her first year as a drop off leader and Monday morning was a little hectic but awesome.
“It’s good,” Lang said. “I’m actually doing double duty through our SEMO team. I do church relations and the drop off this year in Fredericktown.”
Lang, who is actually from Perryville, comes to Fredericktown to attend Cowboy Church.
“I have been involved for three years with the team, but I have been packing shoeboxes for probably 15 years because my daughter is 15,” Lang said. “We have always packed shoeboxes and when I started to come to church here, they were all ready do it, and I took over and became the project leader.”
Lang said Operation Christmas Child and the shoebox project is so awesome it makes her cry.
“It’s just very touching, you know, if you watch the videos,” Lang said. “They have nothing, and our kids have so much.”
Lang said she just hopes the kids receiving the boxes get to know Jesus.
“That is the ultimate goal that you want them to know Jesus,” Lang said. ” Yes, it’s nice to get a toy, but you want them to know Jesus. A lot of third world countries, they don’t get to know what it is like to go to church.”
Lang said Cowboy Church packed 172 boxes Sunday and worked together as a group.
“We do it as a group, and we say a prayer,” Lang said. “We always say ‘pray for your shoebox,’ because I’ve watched many videos of a child and they had prayed for that item in that shoebox. You can’t tell me that’s not God because it has to be if that little child prayed for a bunny and it was a little stuffed bunny in there.”
Lang said not every child will receive a box, and most children only have one chance to receive a shoebox, because there are so many kids.
Last year Operation Christmas Child was able to collect 8,801,607 shoeboxes throughout the United States with an international grand total of 10,623,776 shoeboxes.
Filled shoe boxes may be dropped off at God’s Country Cowboy Church, 160 Commercial Dr., Fredericktown. Operation Christmas Child drop off hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday, November 20; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday, November 21; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday, November 22; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, November 23; 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, November 24; and 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., Monday, November 25.
Anyone with questions is urged to please contact Robin at 573-576-8056 or church at 573-783-9496.
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.
Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Democrat News. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at firstname.lastname@example.org