Operation Christmas Child collecting shoeboxes in Yazoo

By CATHRYN CARTWRIGHT,

Do you have your shoebox ready?

Members of the Yazoo Delta Area team of the Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child are gearing up for National Collection Week, taking place Nov. 12-19.

Lee Ann Allison, area coordinator, said that multiple locations in Yazoo, Holmes and Issaquena Counties will be open as drop-off sites, collecting shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child.

"These sites will collect shoebox donations filled with school supplies, hygiene items, and fun toys for children living in poverty overseas," she said. "This year, the Yazoo Delta team volunteers hope to contribute 3630 shoebox gifts to reach children in need."

Since 1993, Samaritan's Purse has partnered with local churches around the world to deliver 157 million Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts to children in need in 160 countries.  Each one - packed full of fun toys, school supplies, and hygiene items by a family or individual, is sent with prayer that the child who receives it will experience God's love through their simple gifts.

Allison said that shoeboxes are organized into three different age groups for boys and girls: 2 - 4 years, 5 - 9 years, and 10 - 14 years of age.

Each box is marked with a label to ensure that its contents reach a child in that age group.

"Pre-made boxes are available at several of our drop off locations, but you can also use a regular shoe box you have at home, or even a plastic shoebox with a lid," Allison said. "We also have labels to put on the boxes, but you can print them from the website as well."

Allison said that getting children to help pack these shoeboxes can lead to a rewarding lesson in giving to others in need.

"Our children here have grown up with so much and have so much to be thankful for," Allison said. "When children help pack boxes for another child their own age, it makes them think about how much more they may have than others, and they also get to help share about Jesus Christ at the same time."

Allison said that a big part of the Operation Christmas Child ministry is that each shoebox arrives into the hands of a child with a Christian pamphlet in their own language, introducing them to the story of Jesus Christ.

These children are also invited to a 12-week discipleship class where they can learn more about being a Christian, and upon graduation they receive a bible to take home and share with their family members.

If you are not able to drop off a shoe box in person, Samaritan's Purse offers an online shopping option, where families can build a box on the internet, and can track the shipment of their box as it reaches the hands of a child in need in another part of the world.

"We are honored to join the nationwide effort to collect gift-filled shoeboxes for children who may have never experienced the true meaning of Christmas," Allison said. "Through these simple gifts and a message of hope, children learn that God loves them and has not forgotten them."

For more information about Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child, building shoeboxes, or to help the Yazoo Delta Team as a volunteer during National Collection Week, please call Lee Ann Allison at 662-571-6685.