SYCAMORE – While most people in the U.S. are preparing for holiday activities, Sycamore volunteers with Operation Christmas Child, the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind, are filling shoe boxes with toys, school supplies and hygiene items for needy children overseas.
This year-round project of international Christian relief and evangelism organization Samaritan’s Purse, headed by Franklin Graham, is ramping up as local businesses, churches and community groups prepare to collect 1,250 gift-filled shoe boxes from Nov. 12 to 19.
Anyone can drop off a packed shoe box at First Baptist Church, 530 W. State St. in Sycamore, during collection times. Then, using whatever means necessary — trucks, trains, boats, bikes and even elephants — the shoe box gifts will be hand-delivered to hurting children in 100 countries around the world.
Boxes will be collected at the Sycamore church from 1 to 4 p.m. Nov. 12; 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 13 and 14; 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 15 and 16; 1 to 2:30 p.m. Nov. 17 and 18 and 8 to 9 a.m. Nov. 19.
Additional collection sites can be found using the online zip code locator at www.samaritanspurse.org.
Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has hand-delivered more than 94 million shoe box gifts to suffering children in more than 130 countries. This year, the organization hopes to collect 9 million boxes to show children they are loved and not forgotten. For many children, the shoe box gift will be the first gift they have ever received.
Operation Christmas Child uses tracking technology to allow participants to “follow” their box to the destination country where it will be given to a child in need. To register shoe box gifts and find out the destination country, use the “Follow Your Box” donation form found at www.samaritanspurse.org/occ.
For more information, call Jane Peters at 815-895-3116 or visit www.samaritanspurse.org/occ. National Collection Week for gift-filled shoe boxes is Nov. 12-19; however, shoe box gifts are collected all year at the Samaritan’s Purse headquarters in Boone, N.C.
Operation Christmas Child
Shoe boxes can be packed with gifts including small toys (no toy weapons), school supplies and hygiene items. Shoe boxes should be standard sized. They do not have to be wrapped; if they are wrapped, wrap the lid separately as volunteers will have to open the boxes.
Mark on the outside of the box if it is for a boy or girl, and the correct age range: 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14. Include $7 to cover the cost of shipping and secure the lid to the box with a rubber band.
Boxes can be dropped off at First Baptist Church in Sycamore Nov. 12-19.