TIMONIUM, Md. Elementary and middle school-aged kids this week scurried around excitedly unloading wrapped shoe boxes, adhering stickers, and stacking completed gift-filled shoe boxes into large Samaritans Purse cartons that will eventually be hand-delivered to needy children around the world.
Inside a large open area in Grace Fellowship Church is an Operation Christmas Child shoe box collection center. Students from two Christian schools on Wednesday made the trip to the Baltimore-area church to donate shoe boxes and help to prepare the boxes for shipment to the processing center in Charlotte, NC later that day.
I love children and I think this is one of the easiest ways to spread Christs love and the Gospel all over the world, said Lea Hartman, Grace Fellowship Churchs coordinator for the shoebox collection. There are very few places that shoeboxes cant go.
Operation Christmas Child is a project by the international relief organization Samaritans Purse. OCC collects shoe box gifts and delivers them to children around the world who are suffering from natural disaster, war, terrorism, disease, poverty, and famine. Since 1993, the project has hand-delivered more than 46 million shoe boxes to kids in some 120 countries.
As the children squirmed in their seats ready to race to the tables to start processing the shoe box gifts, Hartman reminded the students from Central Christian Assembly and Dayspring Christian Academy the purpose of preparing the shoe box gifts.
We pray for each shoebox that we process today that You will bless it and send it to exactly the child You want to have it, prayed Hartman and the students before the process began. I thank You for all the children who come today to learn more about this process and I pray that You will write it on their hearts that they have prepared a gift to help a child somewhere far away know that they love them and that You love them.
Last year, the collection center at Grace Fellowship Church helped collect some 15,000 shoe boxes with over 5,000 boxes donated by members of the church. The collection center will welcome Bel Forest Christian Academy students on Thursday and the mission group Central Presbyterian Mission on Saturday.
Operation Christmas Childs National Collection Week runs from Nov. 13-20 with the goal to send gift-filled shoe boxes to 8 million struggling children in 90 countries.