ROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times
Christmas is less than 100 days away, and for most in America, children of all ages will receive presents from friends and family.
For nearly 30 years, the Samaritan’s Purse project, Operation Christmas Child, has been making the holidays brighter for children around the world with gift-filled shoeboxes, and local efforts underway to start collecting those boxes.
Friday, Sept. 9, Liberal’s New Beginnings Church hosted a project leader workshop for local volunteers who want to help with OCC’s collection efforts.
The event had a good turnout, and area coordinator Chayli Duerson said she liked what she saw.
“It was wonderful to see all the people who turned out for this event,” she said. “We’re hoping it will continue to grow, and next year, we’re going to offer more than one project leader event. We’ll be in different locations across our area of Southwest Kansas and the Oklahoma Panhandle.”
From the turnout, Duerson said she expects this year’s drive to be a great one.
“We’ve got lots of time,” she said. “Our goal this year is to collect more than 10,000 boxes. We would love to see that happen.”
OCC’s National Collection Week is Nov. 14-21, and Duerson said even those not as familiar with the international project got something out of the New Beginnings workshop.
“It’s a great gospel opportunity,” she said. “It’s a great way to share our love of Jesus in a tangible way with children around the world.”
The last day of National Collection Week, shoeboxes are packed on trucks for processing centers in urban communities. Though many OCC leaders describe this process as a bit chaotic, Duerson said the local effort should be somewhat smoother.
“Our central dropoff person is awesome,” she said. “She makes things flow very well, and she’s got a lot of good community support.”
Though Collection Week is still a little less than two months away, Duerson said donations can still be made, including in monetary form.
“If you would just like to make a donation to help cover the shipping costs, ‘The Greatest Journey,’ you can make those donations,” she said. “You can drop a check off at your local dropoff.”
New Beginnings will serve as the local dropoff location, and Duerson said boxes can be packed with several types of items.
“On OCC’s Web site, there’s a list of all the things we include in a box, which includes a ‘wow’ item, a soccer ball, a doll, an outfit, personal hygiene items, toothbrush, soap, soap boxes, hair brush,” she said. “School supplies are extremely needed, pencils, pens, bags to hold your pencils and pens, erasers, notebooks.”
Duerson said boxes can also be ordered through the OCC Web site.
“They have plastic boxes,” she said. “If you prefer those plastic hard boxes, you can order those. They come in packs of 12, or you can order the cardboard boxes. They come in, I believe, packs of 25. Some of the churches will have boxes on hand, but if you’re wanting to get a large quantity, it’s better you order them and have them shipped to your location.”
Fall officially begins Thursday, and warm weather is still in the air. Some may think getting people thinking about the holidays with such conditions could prove difficult, but with OCC being a yearround project, Duerson said it is easier than one would believe.
“July is the perfect time because there’s Christmas in July,” she said. “Jesus is on our minds yearround, so it’s a good way, especially for the people who love Christmas or love bargain shopping. School supplies are on sale right now. Everybody’s got their own time of year when they get really excited about it.”
Some OCC leaders offered some creative ways to increase the number of boxes donated locally, and with the 10,000 shoebox goal being a small part of the 11 million aimed for nationally, Duerson said some of those means could be implemented for this year’s drive.
“As we try to get more boxes for more gospel opportunities and show children they’re loved around the world, it’s always good,” she said. “The more boxes you have, the more you need to help cover that $10, and it’s great to involve your community and the people you work with and do that in creative ways.”