Operation Christmas Child Brings Joy Through Gift-Filled Shoeboxes

Members of Waterville United Methodist Church packed shoeboxes with items for Operation Christmas Child on October 29. Pictured are (from left) Marcia Timms, Karen Longnecker, Andrew Wiczynski, Anne Stevens, Luke Timms, Dave Knapp, Karen Wiggins, Kim Knapp and John Nicholson. Waterville United Methodist Church is the drop-off location for those donating boxes of toys, personal care items and other goodies that are Christmas gifts for children around the world. The drop-off is November 13-20 during office hours. For information, visit www.watervilleumc.org. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

A pair of sunglasses, a stuffed animal, a toothbrush and even school supplies – when placed in a box to be opened on Christmas morning – can bring joy to a child who might not otherwise receive a gift.

Every year, millions of children receive shoeboxes filled with gifts through Operation Christmas Child, a project of the nondenominational Christian organization Samaritan’s Purse International Relief. Over 150,000 volunteers nationwide manage the collection and mailing of these boxes to 100 countries worldwide.

Waterville United Methodist Church will be the Anthony Wayne-area collection point for shoebox drop-offs from Monday, November 13 through Monday, November 20 at the church, 7115 Waterville Monclova Rd. in Waterville. 

Boxes can be dropped off during regular office hours as listed on the website, www.watervilleumc .org.

Donors are encouraged to fill out a form online at www.samaritanspurse.org first. That form will include information about the contents of the box and whether it is for a boy or girl in the age ranges of 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14. As always, there is an extra need for gifts for boys ages 10-14.

In addition, donors are asked to provide $10.00 for the cost of shipping. A Follow Your Box feature allows donors to view the boxes’ destinations.

Empty boxes are also available at the church during office hours, or donors can also use a shoebox.

For those who would like to fill a shoebox, start with deciding whether the gift will be for a boy or a girl and the age category. Then, fill it with gifts, including a larger “wow” item such as a soccer ball with pump; stuffed animal or shoes; toys such as cars, jump ropes, yo-yos and light-up toys along with extra batteries. Personal care items such as toothbrushes, washcloths, combs and hairbrushes are also welcome, as well as school supplies like solar calculators, pens, pencils, sharpeners, notebooks and picture books. The box could also include accessories such as socks, sunglasses, jewelry, watches and flashlights with extra batteries.

War-themed items such as guns or knives are not appropriate, especially as many children are living in areas impacted by war. Also avoid food, liquids, toothpaste, candy, seeds, medications, lotions, aerosol cans and breakable items. Detailed lists are available at www.samaritanspurse.org.

No time to go shopping? Visit watervilleumc.org and click on “Get Involved” at the top of the page and follow “Operation Christmas Child” to “Build a Box Online.” Drop the items you would like to put in your shoebox and volunteers will do it for you. The $25.00 per box includes shipping costs.

Operation Christmas Child is an opportunity for those of any denomination and even non-churchgoers to brighten a child’s day.

Last year, more than 1,600 boxes were dropped off at the church, said organizer Anne Stevens. That was in addition to the 250 individually boxed items submitted by the congregation.

“With help from the community, we are touching the lives of more children all over the globe every year,” Stevens said.

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