This year National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes started on Monday, and a local church hopes to collect at least 3,000 shoe boxes.
For the past 10 to 12 years, Bannertown Baptist Church has participated in the Operation Christmas Child program founded by Samaritan’s Purse. The church is a designated drop-off point for the program, which ships shoe boxes filled with gifts to children around the world.
This week, people from around the community will drop off shoe boxes at the church. Last year the church collected close to 3,000 shoe boxes from churches and residents in Surry County, and it hopes to collect at least that many this year. The church’s goal is to donate 200 boxes or more this year just at Bannertown Baptist.
Ronnie Simpson, who organizes the local effort along with wife Sarah, said this year they asked church members and the community to give “plus one.” They want people to give one more shoe box than they gave last year.
Volunteers will be gathered at the church for a few hours each day from now through Nov. 19 to collect the boxes, make sure they have been labeled properly, package them into larger boxes, and load them onto a truck. The truck will head out on Nov. 19, and the boxes will travel to Charlotte. Mike Jones Produce provides the church a truck and a driver to transport the boxes to Winston-Salem. The boxes will then head to Charlotte to the Samaritan’s Purse Processing Center.
Boxes may be dropped off at the fellowship hall of Bannertown Baptist Church today through Thursday from 1 to 3 p.m., on Friday from 1 to 6 p.m., on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m.
Millions of shoe boxes will be collected around the nation this year. The boxes are generally filled with items such as toothbrushes, crayons, small toys and clothing items for needy youth ages 2 to 14 years old.
On Dec. 8, 20 people from the church will travel to the Charlotte Processing Center to help pack the boxes. Volunteers perform different tasks at the center. Some inspect the boxes, others repack the shoe boxes into larger boxes. People come every year from various states to participate.
Although many organizations have struggled in recent years with donations and participation, Simpson said Samaritan’s Purse has kept “blossoming and booming.” He said people enjoy the excitement of giving to kids, and sometimes the kids write back.
Sarah Simpson said that the boxes don’t always go to foreign countries. She said some go to coal miner’s children in West Virgina, some go to Eskimos in Alaska, and others go to children that are affected by natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy.
She said sending the boxes out to children gives her great satisfaction.
“We just like helping people. This gives us joy. It’s giving back,” she said.
People can use an empty shoe box or small plastic container to put the gifts in. Many people like to give plastic containers so the children can reuse them. When people pack boxes, they may wrap them. But Simpson said people need to make sure they wrap lids and boxes separately, because the boxes will be opened and inspected later.
Each participant should determine whether the shoe box will be for a boy or a girl and which age category: 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14. A label designating the age and gender should be taped on the box lid. The label can be found online. The church also has labels available.
The boxes should be filled with gifts such as toys, school supplies, hygiene items, or other items such as hard candy, socks, T-shirts, and more. People should not include used or damage items; war-related items such as toy guns; chocolate or food; out-of-date candy; liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items; and aerosol cans.
Personal notes and photos can also be included in a separate envelope. If a name and address is included, the child may write back. Samaritan’s Purse also asks that people donate $7 or more for each shoe box to help cover shipping and other costs. A rubber band needs to be placed around the completed box.
For more information about the program, go online to www.samaritanspurse.org and click on the Operation Christmas Child link. To learn more about the collection at Bannertown Baptist, call the church at 786-5407 or Ronnie and Sarah Simpson at 789-2505.
Reach Mondee Tilley at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-1930.