Yet, the signs of another wondrous autumn are emerging and it serves as this reminder: It’s not too early to start assembling items for those precious shoe boxes that Operation Christmas Child will receive during the week of Nov. 15-22.
Hopefully, you saw our story on the front page of the Sept. 3 edition announcing the kickoff of this year’s event in the beautiful Professional Development Center at Life Care Centers of America. Staff writer Joyanna Weber and photographer Donna Kaylor were on hand to document this embracing experience which Life Care thoughtfully brings to the community each year.
Not many in our Cleveland and Bradley County hometown are unfamiliar with this inspiring international outreach, but if you’re one of the few, here’s a condensed look.
Operation Christmas Child is a brainstorm of Samaritan’s Purse, an organization led by evangelist Franklin Graham. Life Care serves as a national sponsor of Christmas Child, a role the company has proudly held since 1995.
The Christmas Child project asks community residents to fill a standard-sized shoe box with school supplies, toys and hygiene items. As the donor, you may select the age group and gender for whom you are buying. Once boxed, you may drop off your donation — with a $7 contribution to help offset shipping costs — to the Life Care corporate offices on Keith Street.
Last year, the Cleveland community filled 38,150 shoe boxes for children around the world. The outreach has biblical roots which Life Care President Beecher Hunter addressed during the annual kickoff. He quoted Mark 10 in which Jesus told his disciples not to send the children away from him.
Holding to this accountability, each youngster receiving a Christmas Child shoe box is first given a book about Jesus in their own language. Children are told of Jesus’ love and given the opportunity to say a prayer of salvation.
The outreach isn’t just about the gifts. Operation Christmas Child also offers a discipleship for these children. Those who complete the program receive a certificate and a copy of the New Testament during a graduation ceremony.
Those wishing to fill a shoe box are asked to consider these gift ideas:
- School Supplies: Pens, pencils and sharpeners; crayons or markers; stamps and ink pad sets; writing pads or paper; solar calculators; and coloring and picture books.
n Toys: Small cars, dolls, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, jump ropes, a small Etch-A-Sketch, toys that light up or make noise (with extra batteries), a Slinky or other toys.
- Hygiene Items: Toothbrush, toothpaste, mild bar soap in a plastic bag, comb or washcloth.
n Other: Hard candy, lollipops, mints, gum (please place all candy in a resealable plastic zippered bag), T-shirts, socks, ball caps, sunglasses, hair clips, toy jewelry, watches or flashlights (with extra batteries).
You are also invited to enclose a personal note and photo of yourself or your family; the recipient child may write back if you enclose your name and address.
You may fill your shoe box for a boy or girl in these age groups: 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14.
You may learn more about Operation Christmas Child, with detailed instructions, by calling 1-800-353-5949, or visiting the website at www.samaritanspurse.org.
Operation Christmas Child is a worthy outreach impacting children in need.
We urge you to open your heart and to begin preparing your list of gifts.