The annual Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child has kicked off in Guthrie and the surrounding areas and you’re invited to participate. Since 1993, Samaritan’s Purse has collected more than 168 million shoeboxes packed with toys and other fun items by people everywhere and delivered to boys and girls in need around the world in partnership with local churches.
Operation Christmas Child is actually a division of the Samaritan Purse which serves a large portion of the world.
“Samaritan Purse is an international non-denominational organization and they do more than just Operation Christmas Child,” explained Jean Ingram drop-off team leader and prayer mobilization coordinator. “Operation Christmas Child is just a branch. They provide physical and spiritual aid sharing God’s love through his Son, Jesus Christ. They also respond to natural disasters. They are currently in the Bahamas helping out after the hurricanes. They’ve also been to Oklahoma to help after the tornadoes. They are usually the first boots on the ground because they have their own airplanes and supplies.”
Samaritan purse also has projects such as Operation Heal Our Patriots and Children’s Heart Project.
Operation Christmas Child takes place prior to the Christmas holiday. It’s actually an all year round project for Ingram.
Boxes for Operation Christmas Child can be picked up and dropped off at Community Church, 512 E. Seward Road in Guthrie. Supplies for the shoe box can include hygiene products (excluding toothpaste), school supplies, games, and a Wow item.
“We’ve learned that when a child opens a box the first thing we want them to see is a Wow item and the most important thing to put in the box is prayer,” said Ingram. “For boys that Wow item can be a soccer ball or dolls for the girls, most any item that makes them say ‘Wow’ when they open the box. We’ve made the boxes a little bigger and a little sturdier this year. You can also use your own shoe box.”
November 18 through 25 is the national collection week. Every drop-off location has its own hours. At Guthrie’s location, Community Church, you can drop off from nine to 11 in the morning and four to six in the afternoon.
“We have 22 drop-off locations in northwest Oklahoma. Guthrie, Crescent, Edmond, Stillwater and Kingfisher are some of the locations that are close. We try to have drop off locations within 25 miles of each other, so people don’t have to drive long distances. We’re always looking for more drop-off locations because the more locations, the more shoe boxes,” reported Ingram.
People who just want to donate money can do so, too. You can also go to samaritanpurse.org/occ and build a box online and you can even track your box to see what part of the country it goes to. There are also videos that feature some of the children who are now adults sharing their testimony of what their shoe box meant to them.
“We ask that with each box a donation of nine dollars is given for processing. The nine dollars is not just to get the box to the destination, but it also covers a book called ‘The Greatest Gift’ and it also pays for teaching materials needed,” shared Ingram. “You can also disciple a child for six dollars.”
The goal for Guthrie is 1,015 shoe boxes and the goal for northwest Oklahoma is 22,000. The entire goal for the world is 11 million.
“What goes in the box is fun; what comes out is eternal,” expressed Ingram.