Operation Christmas Child, a branch of Samaritan's Purse, has given shoebox gifts to more than 100 million boys and girls in 130 plus countries since 1993.
In one instance, children peeked through the windows of their small schoolhouse, unable to get inside to receive shoeboxes that workers from Samaritan's Purse had brought with them. Among them was a young girl whose twin sister sat inside. The mother asked the helpers if the twins could sit together, and the helpers agreed - with the mother's understanding one of the twins would not receive anything, due to a shortage of gifts.
"So, when the sister inside received the gift, it was one of those big boot boxes, and when she opened it, there were two of everything in there," said Sandy Thies, collection center coordinator for Operation Christmas Child. "There were two things of toothpaste, there were two dolls, there were two of everything. It was one of those God moments because God decided these two twins would get the twin box."
Shoebox distribution in Nepal is pictured
This small miracle represents the mission of Operation Christmas Child, a branch of Samaritan's Purse - to bring the message of Jesus Christ to those in need. Samaritan's Purse follows the lead of the parable the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). Jesus told the story of a good Samaritan helping a hurting man when others had left him on the side of the road to die. He than told his followers "Go and do likewise." Samaritan's Purse followed this command for the last 40 years in their effort to aid the world's poor, sick and suffering.
"The shoeboxes are given to children who have survived wars and emissary areas who might have gone through destruction," Thies said. Included in the shoebox would be toys, school supplies, hygiene items or accessories, as well as Christian literature.
Afterwards, a follow-up program called "The Greatest Journey" is offered to the children. The program lasts 12 weeks and teaches the children about Jesus.
Thies always had a heart for children, and used to pack shoeboxes when she first heard about the project. After the previous coordinator retired, she stepped into his shoes and the operation was moved to Kidder Memorial Methodist Church in Jamestown, where it has been for the last six years.
Operation Christmas Child will take place from Nov. 18-25 with six drop off locations for participants to bring their shoeboxes. Local parishes will also be taking part in the mission, and will collect shoeboxes at their ministry before bringing it to nearby drop off points. Operation Christmas Child collected 7,596 shoeboxes locally last year.
Shoeboxes should be average sized and be for a boy or a girl in the age categories of: 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14. The correct age category should be labeled at the top of the box and a donation of $7 to help with shipping costs for each gift prepared is encouraged. Shoebox gift suggestions include toys, hard candy, school supplies, hygiene items, accessories and clothes.
Used or damaged items, war-related items, chocolate or food, out-of-date candy, liquids or lotions, medications or vitamins, breakable items and aerosol cans should not be included.
Shoeboxes can be dropped off at the following locations:
Park United Methodist Church at 49 Sinclair Drive in Sinclairville. Drop-off times are Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 25 from 3-6 p.m.
Christ Community Church at 219 Berry Road in Fredonia. Drop-off times are Monday-Friday from 6-8 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, Sunday from 1-3 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 25, from noon to 1 p.m.
Odosagih Bible Conference at 3204 Hazelmere Ave. in Machias. Drop-off times will be Monday-Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 25, from 8 a.m. to noon.
Creekside Chapel at 2523 Five Mile Road in Allegany. Drop-off times are Monday-Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 2-6 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday from 1-5 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 25, from 10 a.m. to noon.
Kidder Memorial United Methodist Church at 385 S. Main St. in Jamestown. Drop-off times will be Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5-7 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 25, from 9 a.m. to noon.
First Baptist Church at 59 S. Erie St. in Mayville. Drop-off times will be Monday from 1-3 p.m., Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 6-8 p.m., Wednesday from 1-3 p.m. and 6-8 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday from 1-3 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 25, from 9-11 a.m.
Belfast Free Methodist Church at 11 Chestnut St. in Belfast. Drop-off times are Monday-Wednesday from 6-8 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 5-8 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday from 1-5 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 25, from 9-10 a.m.
Little Valley United Methodist Church at 109 Court St. in Little Valley. Drop-off times are Monday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon and 6-8 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday from 9-12 a.m., Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 25, from 10 a.m. to noon.
South Dayton Free Methodist Church at 327 Pine St. in South Dayton. Drop-off times are Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday from 12:30-1:30 pm. and Monday, Nov. 25, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more information on Operation Christmas Child and Samaritan's Purse, visit the Samaritan's Purse website at www.samaritanspurse.org.