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Shoeboxes bring Christmas to needy overseas

Samaritan’s Purse kicked off its Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Project campaign at the Linden Baptist Church on Tuesday.

Several people came to hear Atlanta regional director Jamie Hardenbrook, who came to Linden to help people get involved in one of the largest Christmas drives ever seen locally.

“We had a great night,” said Charlotte Barkley of Linden Baptist Church. “Everybody was excited about Operation Christmas Child, and everybody wants to get the word out to those who are not participating to call either June Humble at 289-1954 or the Bethel Baptist Association office at 295-8805 and get more information about how to participate.”

“Samaritan’s Purse is a worldwide relief organization that is at work in nearly all countries, bringing all kinds of relief to hurting people,” said June Humble, the collection center coordinator. “They do this by building houses for people in where people have lost homes to earthquake, fire, flood or other means.

“There is an arm of Samaritan’s Purse called Operation: Christmas Child Shoebox Project. Because Samaritan’s Purse is already recognized in these countries, they bring in shoeboxes to the poorest children in the world to reach them for Christ, to spread the gospel.”

People who want to donate a shoebox for someone in need should first find a standard shoebox or similar-sized container, then determine if they want to give to a boy or a girl and choose an age category: 2 to 4, 5 to 9 or 10 to 14. Then, they should fill the shoebox or container with gifts.

The organization also asks donators to add $7 for each shoebox to help cover shipping and other project costs.

Once the boxes and containers come to the collection center at the Bethel Baptist Association office in Linden, they are checked through by volunteers, packaged and loaded onto trucks to be taken to Atlanta, where tens of thousands of volunteers work at the warehouse for three weeks preparing the packages for shipping around the world.

This year, the National Collection Week will be Nov. 16-23, when shoeboxes come in from all over the region to the Bethel Baptist Association office.

“Area churches probably wouldn’t mind if people brought their shoeboxes to them to take to the Bethel Baptist office,” said Barkley. “At Linden Baptist Church, our collection day will be Nov. 15, and we will bring ours and put them at the altar.”

Christmas is all about children, and Operation Christmas Child helps guarantee that children around the world who do without will have presents on Christmas. That kind of love is a great thing, but not so big that it won’t fit in a shoebox.