More than 100 volunteers dressed as Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes will be canvassing New York City Thursday in an effort to encourage people to get involved in their campaign to provide gifts to 8.5 million children globally.
Although organizers have previously visited New York for several promotional events, this year marks the first year for the life-size shoe boxes in the city. Each box worn by the volunteers represents a country that Operation Christmas Child will visit.
Operation Christmas Child is an annual ministry project of Samaritan's Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization led by Franklin Graham. Since 1993, the ministry has delivered more than 86 million gift-filled shoe boxes to needy boys and girls, some of them orphans, in 138 countries.
The effort on Thursday also launches “a viral campaign to encourage New Yorkers to participate in the Operation Christmas Child campaign through Twitter and Facebook, and traditional media as well,” said Randy Riddle, director of Operation Christmas Child U.S.
“We’ll have information to hand out promoting the opportunity to send a shoe box gift and the Gospel to children worldwide,” Riddle told The Christian Post. “It’s an opportunity to share a moment of joy with a child who may have never received a gift, but most importantly it’s the opportunity to share the Gospel with children who may have never heard the good news.”
Riddle said he just celebrated 15 years with the ministry and can’t imagine being involved with anything else that has as much impact in reaching people for Jesus.
“God has blessed this program to a level of 8 million or more shoe box gifts or opportunities to share the Gospel every year,” he said.
Volunteer Livia Satterfield, 24, has a special reason to be involved with the ministry. Satterfield received a shoe box while she was a child living in a Romanian orphanage. Later, after beginning a correspondence, she was adopted by the same U.S. couple who had packed the gift.
Satterfield has been helping with outreach events for Operation Christmas Child for 10 years. Last summer, she returned to Romania and delivered shoe boxes to kids in orphanages similar to the one she lived in. She will be participating in the New York event.
“It’s exciting because I am grateful that I can be part of a program that has affected my life and now I encourage other people to get involved,” Satterfield said. “Every gift reaches a child in need with the gift of love and hope.”
Organizers said that participation in Operation Christmas Child is open to anyone. They recommend simply taking an empty shoe box, filling it with toys, school supplies, and other gifts for a boy or girl age 2 to 14, and dropping it off next week , November 14-21, at any one of more than 3,200 collection points in all 50 states. To find out more, visit ShoeBoxBlitz.com.