Sarah Ann Schultz
Irvin and the Ashe County chapter of the Women’s Home and Foreign Mission Society donated shoeboxes to Operation Christmas Child.
Like Irvin, thousands of Operation Christmas Child participants are delivering shoeboxes to 3,700 collection sites nationwide as part of National Collection Week, Nov. 18-25.
Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian international relief organization.
Participants in the U.S. and 11 other partnering countries fill shoeboxes with toys, school supplies, hygiene items and accessories to send to needy children in more than 100 countries.
“We have the great privilege of sharing the gospel with so many children,” said Randy Riddle, the domestic director of Operation Christmas Child. “We want them to know that God loves them and cares for them, and so does someone here in the U.S.”
Since its creation in 1993, Operation Christmas Child has delivered more than 100 million shoeboxes. And this year, they’re expecting 9.8 million more.
“A lot of the success behind Operation Christmas Child has to do with the Lord blessing the project and just keeping the focus on the reason for the season, which is Jesus Christ,” said Stacey Gotwald, media relations manager for Operation Christmas Child.
This year, Samaritan’s Purse is expecting 750,000 shoeboxes to come through the Boone processing center alone, although Boone is the second smallest of the eight processing centers nationwide.
Charlotte, the largest processing center, is expected to receive 2.1 million boxes, with 11,000 volunteers an hour working to process them.
Boxes collected in Boone will be delivered to Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad and Mali.
“It’s a worldwide ministry,” said Chris Gotwald, operations coordinator for Operation Christmas Child. “You can be a part of something that’s expanding the kingdom across the world.”
Once all the boxes are delivered to the Boone processing center, volunteers from all over the country will help with inspecting the boxes for items that can be hurtful to the child, damaged items or anything that could be stopped in customs.
They tape the boxes together and pack them up to be shipped overseas.
The Boone processing center expects between 8,500 and 10,000 volunteers. This is the first year volunteers can sign up online, as well as by phone.
Last year, Samaritan’s Purse received more than 200,000 phone calls from people wanting to volunteer.
“It’s very much a team effort to get these shoeboxes into the hands of kids who have never received a gift before,” Stacey Gotwald said. “It’s not just the temporary gift of a shoebox; it’s the eternal gift of Jesus Christ.”
The Operation Christmas Child Processing Center at 801 Bamboo Road will be accepting boxes from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Nov. 25, with the exception of Sunday, which is open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Three Forks Baptist Church at 1922 U.S. Highway 421 South will be accepting boxes from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. every day through Nov. 25.
For more information, call Samaritan’s Purse at (704) 583-1463 or visit samaritanspurse.org/occ.