Love in a shoebox
Nov 09, 2012 | 652 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Faces of millions of children in impoverished lands around the world will again glow with the arrival of the holidays this year as the humanitarian outreach of Operation Christmas Child gets under way.

Locally, some of the process has changed as Samaritan’s Purse continues to grow its partnership with churches to coordinate the much-respected initiative that until this year had been driven in Cleveland and Bradley County by Life Care Centers of America. A staunch believer in children and ongoing supporter of OCC, Life Care remains one of two dropoff locations in the community.

As in years past, Life Care is using its beautiful Campbell Plaza on Keith Street as a collection point, but its nursing home and assisted living facilities are no longer filling this dropoff role. However, all are continuing to conduct their own internal shoebox drives in support of the global program.

The spacious First Baptist Church of Cleveland on Stuart Road is serving as a community dropoff site as well.

Beecher Hunter, president of Life Care Centers of America who has embraced OCC for years, continues to do so. Hunter supports the widely respected program through his personal advocacy, as a Life Care leader and as a longtime member of First Baptist Church.

Even during OCC’s regional kickoff held recently in Chattanooga, Hunter assured project volunteers that Life Care continues to throw its full support to the global operation. For years, our Cleveland and Bradley County community has recognized Life Care as a face and voice of Operation Christmas Child.

This has not changed. The downsizing of the Life Care role is merely a move in the direction for which OCC has always been headed — toward close, and hopefully longstanding, partnerships with the church community.

“There is not a rift between us (Life Care) and Samaritan’s Purse,” Hunter stressed during the OCC Mid-South Region kickoff. “From the beginning, when Samaritan’s Purse started Operation Christmas Child they wanted churches to be the relay centers.”

Life Care has long served as an invaluable voice, the hands, the legs and the logistics for Operation Christmas Child and we thank the Cleveland-based company for its continuing support, just as we do for First Baptist Church. Through these two community-minded forces, Cleveland’s connection to OCC remains strong.

So now let us prepare for the 2012 campaign, remembering that Life Care’s Campbell Plaza and First Baptist Church are now our local dropoff sites. Both fully support the program and their leadership asks for our hometown’s continued support as well.

OCC’s National Collection Week is Nov. 12-19.

Shoeboxes filled with toys, candy and hygiene items can be dropped off at First Baptist Church Nov. 12-15, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Nov. 16, from 8 a.m. to noon. Those wanting to drop off a box on Nov. 18 may do so during the Sunday church services.

Shoeboxes can be delivered to Life Care’s Campbell Center from Nov. 12-16, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; on Nov. 17, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; on Nov. 18, from 2 to 3 p.m.; and on Nov. 19, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Those dropping off a shoebox are asked to include a $7 donation to cover the cost of shipping, if at all possible. Donations made electronically will allow the shoebox to be tracked, giving the donor the chance to know its eventual destination.

Although OCC is pursuing the approach that Samaritan’s Purse had always intended through local churches, Life Care — and now First Baptist Church — should still be viewed as friendly faces and gracious voices of the initiative.

We encourage Cleveland and Bradley County residents to continue their longtime support of this humanitarian outreach.