Operation Christmas Child
Operation Christmas Child began in 1993 when the Samaritan’s Purse President, Franklin Graham, received a call from a man in England asking if he’d be willing to fill shoeboxes with gifts for children in war-torn Bosnia. That year 28,000 wrapped shoe boxes, filled with gifts and a letter found their way to the Balkans in time for Christmas. Since then every year shoeboxes containing gifts, school supplies and hygiene items have been collected and shipped to countries all over the world, bringing both Christmas love and the story of Jesus’ birth to children.
Since 1993 Operation Christmas Child has delivered more than 198 million shoeboxes full of gifts to children in over 170 countries. In 2020 alone more than 9.1 million Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts were collected throughout Australia, Austria, Canada, Finland, Germany, New Zealand, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States, which is amazing considering the world was in the grip of a Pandemic.
Shoeboxes of gifts ready for despatch
Our link with this charity began when Sylvia Jones started making up the shoeboxes, along with her family, in 2006. However, Andy and Ann have taken over the crusade of collecting shoe boxes, donations of goods and then posting the boxes. Sylvia still helps in any way she can and continues to make up her family boxes.
It is an all-year-round effort to collect and wrap the boxes in Christmas wrapping paper, collect donations and pack up the shoeboxes. Shoeboxes are packed and marked up using the following criteria – Boy or Girl and age groups of 2-4 years, 5-9 years, or 10-14 years.
Then fundraising must take place to pay for the postage to send the shoeboxes off to their various destinations. Samaritan’s Purse recommends a £5.00 donation for each shoebox. Once the boxes are complete and postage paid, Andy places a barcode into the boxes, packs them into his car and delivers them to a central warehouse for distribution. This usually happens in November. The bar code is added so that Andy and Ann can find out where the boxes have gone to. Their 2021 shoeboxes went to children in Central Asia, Liberia, Benin, Bosnia and Albania.
Andy and Ann have started the shoebox campaign for this year and already have 40 shoeboxes complete. They would like to thank all those who knit, donate new gifts, sew bags and dolls clothes, scour the charity shops, and then store all the goods and boxes until they can be taken to the warehouse.
However, the campaign to fill shoeboxes continues and they could always do with more donations, in particular small books for boys aged 5-9 years. Ideally the books need both words and pictures.