'Compassion Fatigue' Not Expected for Christmas Shoe Box Giving

Samaritan's Purse is preparing its annual Operation Christmas Child (OCC) program with some 2,000 collection points across the nation and little concern over American giving even in the midst of an active disaster season this year.

Though worries had hovered over the heads of the OCC staff as the United States was hard-hit by several disasters, the team is convinced of the generous hearts of the American public, including families that have suffered from huge losses in the recent hurricanes.

After experiencing both suffering and care, children from the storm-affected regions felt a greater need to contribute to aid the millions who suffer on a regular basis around the world.

"We've heard stories of families who have lost so much and who are still participating," said Paige Greene, community relations manager of OCC. "That really inspires us.

"People who have lost so much can still persevere."

Samaritan's Purse is also on the scene in disaster relief work, including Pakistan, the Gulf Coast and their newest operation in Florida.

Collection and relay centers are being stationed throughout the nation to receive hundreds and thousands of gift-filled boxes from individuals, families and churches. Currently, an OCC center in Baltimore, Md., is equipping relay centers with the necessary materials for National Collection Week which kicks off Nov. 14.

In the mid-Atlantic region alone, 116 relay centers plus 38 collection centers are being set up to collect and send boxes to one of six processing centers.

Last year, 7.4 million shoeboxes were collected and delivered to children in 95 countries. This year, the operation is aiming for 7.8 million shoe box gifts.

"We're very much in prayer so that every shoe box comes with prayer and love," said Kamela Robinson, mid-Atlantic regional director of OCC. "Even the youngest child can put a shoe box together and feel that they are making a huge accomplishment in the Kingdom of God."

As preparations continue for the upcoming week, the excitement and energy of the OCC staff and the nation have not died down from the recent pummeling of states caused by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma.

And OCC does not expect a decline in giving or a "compassion fatigue" this year with even the storm victims "on board more than ever," according to Greene.

For more information on Operation Christmas Child, visit operationchristmaschild.org.