During the week of Nov. 12-19, community members filled shoeboxes with school supplies, toys and hygiene items to send to children in need around the world. Shoebox packers had the opportunity to fill as many boxes as they wanted, for both boys and girls. Every third week in November, shoebox packers join The Samaritan’s Purse in Operation Christmas Child’s National Collection week.
The Samaritan’s Purse project partners with churches worldwide to deliver these gifts to children around the world who’ve been affected by war, disease, disaster, poverty and famine. For some children, the shoebox is the first gift they have ever received. The goal for the Eastside area is to collect 11,000 shoeboxes.
Eastside Christian School (ECS) in Bellevue has been a drop-off location for seven years. Operation drop-off center leader Paige Benton has volunteered for five of those years. She serves in behalf of ECS and Christmas Operation Child. Benton’s role is to coordinate and train volunteers, and make sure they are accurate with the number of boxes being brought in. ECS collected around 1,500 shoeboxes.
“[The] shoeboxes are a tangible way to show Jesus’s love. What I love about Operation Christmas Child is that it’s a two-fold mission,” said Benton. “Children around the world receive these boxes and hear someone packed a box of gifts for them. The other part of the mission is that there are church leaders who share with them about Jesus Christ.”
At Calvary Chapel Eastside, Melissa Saunders has volunteered for four years and filled shoeboxes herself for more than 10 years. Saunders became a drop-off center team leader two years ago. Saunders said Calvary Chapel had between 20-25 volunteers at their location. She shared they received 400 shoeboxes in one day. As of Nov. 16, they received 675 shoeboxes.
Operation Christmas Child would not be possible without the volunteers at each location, who help pack thousands of shoeboxes. According to Benton, each step is important. Once the shoeboxes are packed in large packing boxes, they are shipped to the Woodinville collection center where they are hauled on to semi trailers who drive them out to the Southern California processing center. From there, the boxes are shipped worldwide.
Operation Christmas Child had two drop-off locations in Bellevue, one in Woodinville, one in Bothell and one in Sammamish.
To learn more about Samaritan’s Purse International Relief’s Operation Christmas Child, visit their website, www.samaritanspurse.org.