Donated gifts come in small packages

Published 10:44 pm Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When it comes to donations at Christmastime, citizens in Marengo County give often with both hands. So, what’s this about sending shoeboxes to needy children around the world?

It’s all about Samaritan Purse’s Operation: Christmas Child Shoebox Project, which invites donations of gifts placed in shoeboxes or in containers the size of shoeboxes.

This week, National Collection Week for the shoebox project, people are bringing their shoeboxes and containers to the Bethel Baptist Association building on Coats Avenue in Linden, where volunteers put the shoeboxes into ready-made cartons to be sealed and shipped to the Samaritan’s Purse regional processing center in Atlanta. From there, the boxes will go all over the world to needy children.

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“People from all over this area bring their boxes here,” said area coordinator June Humble. “We’ll have about 600 from our church, First Baptist. We’ll have several hundred from the Methodist Church today (Monday), so we’ll have this room filled in just a little while.”

People wanting to donate gifts to needy children are asked to first select an age group and then the gender of the person they want to give to. They then fill the shoebox with toys, games, hygiene items and other things that the child may want or need. Donors were even invited to include a photo of themselves and their family and an address so their child could write back to them.

Last year, the Bethel Baptist Association took in 7,887 boxes from around the area, and was well on their way to a similar number or higher as early as Monday morning.

Some people began collecting items to give as early as last Christmas, making the shoebox project a part of their Christmas tradition.

“I start shopping when Christmas stuff goes on sale,” Humble said.

The Bethel Baptist Association will continue taking in shoeboxes through Sunday, and the fully-loaded truck will haul them to Atlanta on Monday. They will be taking in shoebox donations from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Saturday and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

“Some of the other collection centers in Marion, Grove Hill, Selma, Livingston, Butler and Camden will collect their boxes all week at their relay centers,” Humble said. “Then, Sunday afternoon and Monday, they will bring their boxes and put them on the truck.”

Cartons filled with shoeboxes are sealed, and the number of shoeboxes in each carton is given to volunteers. They write that number on a special mailing label that is then affixed to the side of that carton. Humble will then tally the total of the shoeboxes that have been brought in, and will also add in the totals from the other regional collection centers.

It is said that good things come in small packages. People from Marengo County and around the country will help make sure that needy children around the world have a merry Christmas, one step at a time.