Shoebox gift collection begins this week

Published 4:48 pm Friday, November 13, 2009

Hundreds of people in this region have been packing shoeboxes with gifts to send to needy children around the world, and the time for those boxes to be brought to the relay center is fast approaching.

National Collection Week is Nov. 16-20, when shoeboxes from churches all around this region, from Demopolis to Butler, will be brought to the Bethel Baptist Association building in Linden to be checked, put in larger boxes and loaded onto trailers to be hauled to Atlanta, Ga. There, the boxes will be rechecked and shipped to their destinations.

The project is called “Operation: Christmas Child,” and it is a part of the Samaritan’s Purse ministry directed by Franklin Graham, the son of famed preacher Dr. Billy Graham.

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“In the United States, there are 5,103 Operation: Christmas Child connection volunteers, and I am one of those,” said June Humble, who oversees the operation in Linden. “This year, there are 12 sending countries throughout the world. This year, Spain and Hong Kong became new sending countries.

“Our worldwide goal this year is 8.2 million shoeboxes. The goal for the United States is 5.2 million.”

Churches of many different denominations are taking part in the Operation: Christmas Child shoebox project. Those churches have been collecting filled shoeboxes in preparation to bring them to Linden to be shipped out in time for Christmas.

Each shoebox is gender- and age-specific, filled with toys and goodies appropriate for a boy or girl in three different age groups. Samaritan’s Purse also accepts gifts placed in shoebox-sized plastic containers. Once the gifts have been placed in the shoebox along with $7 for shipping and handling, people bring their boxes to a participating church or, in Humble’s case, to people taking part in the project. Her garage has more than 300 shoeboxes ready to go, thanks to the help of other workers.

There are some rules about what can and cannot be sent to children, but Humble said most people in this area have been doing it right.

“Most people are pretty acclimated now in this area to doing the boxes right because we’ve been doing it for so long,” she said. “But then, some are just beginning. If there are any questions, they can always call me at 289-1954.”

Humble said that although the National Collection Week is upon us, there is still time for people to bring filled shoeboxes to the Bethel Baptist Association building in Linden up to Monday, Nov. 23.

“I’ll still be down there taking up boxes,” she said. “Anybody can do this: local kids, families, churches, businesses, schools, Scout troops civic organizations are all invited to join in making shoeboxes.”

It is often said that great things come in small packages, and that is the case with Operation: Christmas Child.

Anyone can pack a Christmas for a child to remember for the rest of his life in something the size of a shoebox.

It is not just a way to reach out to children in need; it is a way to touch them.