With just a few months until Christmas, the annual Operation Christmas Child ministry is back in action. A Samaritan’s Purse project, Operation Christmas Child sends gifts packed in shoeboxes along with a message of the gospel to children worldwide. Many local churches coordinate efforts to pack boxes, but Fellowship Bible Church in Bridgeport is especially invested in the cause, acting as the main collection center for Harrison, Lewis, and Taylor counties. Boxes can be dropped off at a number of other participating locations in the area, but during National Collection Week, November 16-23, all boxes within the three-county region will be delivered to Fellowship Bible Church.

Linda Simon, a church relations coordinator for Operation Christmas Child, is excited to be involved with the project again this year. “It is truly a wonderful ministry. Most of the children who will be given these boxes have never received a gift before. You do not know the impact that such a small gift might have in the life of the child that opens it.” Linda credits the teamwork of all the volunteers at Fellowship Bible Church for making it possible to prep thousands of boxes. They encourage local participation, pack, store and deliver the truckload of boxes to the regional collection center in North Carolina. Once received there, the boxes are checked to make sure they are properly packed and a gospel booklet is inserted. “The next time the box is opened it is by the child,” said Linda.

To participate, start with a standard size cardboard or plastic shoebox. Next, choose whether you would like your box to be given to a boy or girl and the age category. As for the presents inside, Linda made suggestions for some of the most desirable items to include. “Along with school supplies and hygiene products, we like to always include a stuffed animal or doll – something that they can cuddle and hold.” Samaritan’s Purse refers to items like these as “wow” gifts, and recommends including one medium to large quality item that will immediately grab the child’s attention in each box and then adding in other small toys, hygiene products, hard candies, clothing accessories, and school supplies. They ask you to avoid including any used items, toys that could be associated with war, breakables, liquids or candies that may melt. A full list of suggested items can be found online. Each box must also include $7 to cover shipping costs. Linda explained that “while that may seem like a lot, you have to consider where these boxes are going. That contribution helps to get them into the hands of children in remote corners of the globe.”

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There has never been a better reason to go shoe shopping than this worthwhile project. Delight a child across the globe this Christmas by packing a box or donating monetary gifts or filler items to Fellowship Bible Church. For instructions on preparing your box or to find other local drop-off locations, visit www.samaritanspurse.org.