Volunteers pack boxes for Operation Christmas Child

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Sharon Jacobson and her kids Josie, 5, and Amelia, 4, fill a box with toys for Operation Christmas Child at St. John’s Church in NYA on Friday. (Adam Gruenewald/The Times)

by Adam Gruenewald
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About 25 volunteers put forth the extra effort at St. John’s Church in NYA on Friday to create and package shoe boxes during a recent preparation time for Operation Christmas Child.
Local volunteers packed and created 168 gift-filled shoeboxes on Friday, which were filled with toys, helpful items and notes of encouragement. These boxes, along with over 700 others, were collected by volunteers for a week at the church, which has been a Relay Center for the international program for 12 years.
“It went well,” said Heckman. “We had a lot of good help.”
Kathy Heckman, who is a co-coordinator of local efforts with Deb Drier, said the items were then transported on Monday to a collection center before being sent out around the world as part of the effort by Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian humanitarian organization. This year’s boxes will then be sent out to Tanzania, Zambia, Saint Lucia, Madagascar, Zimbabwe and Namibia.
Since 1993, the Samaritan’s Purse project, Operation Christmas Child, has collected and delivered more than 135 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 150 countries and territories.
In 2016, Operation Christmas Child hopes to collect enough shoebox gifts to reach another 12 million children.
Local efforts have stayed strong as well at St. John’s, evidenced by the over 700 boxes collected this year.
“It’s such a worthwhile thing to do,” said Heckman. “It’s such a neat thing for kids in other countries to get to know Christ in this manner. It’s just a neat thing to do.”
Heckman and Drier added their thanks to the people who made the collection such a success.
“We would like to thank all of the people and organizations who have helped to contribute to Operation Christmas Child by volunteering their time, money and shoeboxes,” they said.
For more information on Operation Christmas Child, visit www.samaritanspurse.org.
Follow Adam Gruenewald on Twitter @adamgruenewald.