Shoe boxes are piling up around Pagosa Springs as Operation Christmas Child kicks into gear.
Operation Christmas Child is the shoe box ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian Relief and evangelism organization. In 2010, 8.17 million boxes were distributed by a truck, jet, boat, elephant, or whatever it took to deliver them to needy children in 93 countries around the world.
Volunteers have already folded 500 OCC boxes, and gift-wrapped more plain shoe boxes to encourage locals to participate in sharing some love and hope this holiday season. Every year millions of children squeal for joy as they open their OCC boxes, full of wonderful goodies like toys, school supplies, and basic hygiene items. Many boxes also include a picture of the giver and a personal card or letter. Most of these children have never received a gift.
Pagosans continue to impact the lives of children who receive the shoe boxes, but also their own children. In the words of a mom whose kids filled boxes last year,
“Operation Christmas Child helped my kids think about other people and other cultures. It showed them at such a young age that they can make a difference in other people’s lives. My daughter has even talked about learning to fly an airplane so she can take food to people in other countries.” — Julie, mother of two children
On Oct. 29, our local Boy Scout Troop 807 will once again be handing out shoe boxes to City Market customers in front of the store. If you want one of the free bright red and green boxes, be sure to shop that day between 10 a.m. and noon. Those who pick up a box can also choose a handmade sock doll for their box. These adorable dolls are made and donated by Diane Kleinman of Aspen Springs.
If you don’t have a shoe box to fill, stop by Alco to pick up a plastic four- or six-quart shoe box as well as the “How to Pack a Shoe Box” brochure. Alco has plenty of toys, necessity items and school supplies to purchase for your boxes.
All shoe boxes make their way to CrossRoad Christian Fellowship during the Nov. 14-21 National Collection Week. On Nov. 19, at the Collection Center, there will be a special shoe box packing party for Pagosa Springs children, where they can come celebrate the gift of giving and helping others. Children and their parents can first watch a short nine-minute DVD about the kids who receive Operation Christmas Child boxes. They will then select toys, school supplies and hygiene items to fill the shoe box. They can also write a letter and have their picture taken to put in the box. All items for the box will be provided, but you can bring a small gift if your child would like to include it.
This free event is open from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at CrossRoad Christian Fellowship, next to the Pagosa Lakes Recreation Center on Park Avenue. Just drop by and share in the joy.
For more information about Operation Christmas Child, please call Nancy Burke at 731-5901, or visit the website at www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/OCC/index/.