Yes, Virginia, Operation Christmas Child is Here
By LORETTA FULTON
OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD
When: National collection week Nov. 15-22
Where: Local drop-off locations are First Baptist Church, 1333 N. Third St., and Wylie United Methodist Church. 3430 Antilley Road.
First Baptist drop-off hours: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 15; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16; 1-6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17; 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19; 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20; 1-3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 21; 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 22
Wylie UMC drop-off hours: 12-5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 15; 12-4 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, Nov. 16-18; 1-5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19; 10 a.m.-noon and 1:30-4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20; 1:30-4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 21; 12-3:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 22
Contact: Area coordinator is Naomi Wood. For more information or to request materials, contact Wood at 325-660-5633 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information about Operation Christmas Child: www.samaritanspurse.org
By LORETTA FULTON
Close your eyes and imagine a child in a far-away country where the magic words ‘Christmas morning” may not mean much due to poverty and lack of resources.
Let your imagination go a little deeper and envision that same child waking up on Christmas morning with presents under a Christmas tree. Operation Christmas Child is once again making it easy to bring that image to life.
Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, provides Christmas gifts for children around the world. Naomi Wood, a member of Wylie United Methodist Church, serves as area coordinator and each year looks forward to September and October when her job shifts into full gear.
“This is when it ramps up,” she said
National collection week for shoeboxes packed with gifts for children is Nov. 15-22. Locally, First Baptist Church and Wylie UMC serve as collection points. Another five locations are available in communities outside Abilene but in Wood’s Abilene area. And, if you don’t want to pack a physical box, an online option is available.
“I think it’s a great option,” Wood said, especially for people who don’t want to shop in a crowded store.
Online boxes can be filled year-round, Wood noted, but shoeboxes built after Dec. 31 will not count in the current year’s shoebox total.
Instructions for physical and online boxes can be found at www.samaritanspurse.org Click on “What We Do” at the top and then scroll down the list to “Operation Christmas Child.” You’ll find complete instructions on what is permitted and not permitted in a physical box and how to pack the box. You’ll also find under the online option, gift choices by gender and age range.
A $9 donation is requested for both physical and online boxes to pay for shipping and for a discipleship program called “The Greatest Journey.” After receiving shoebox gifts, many children participate in the program. The 12-lesson course held at a local church teaches Bible stories and scripture memorization. The $25 charge for online boxes includes the $9 requested donation.
Colorful Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes are available at most churches or can be ordered from the website. But any cardboard or plastic shoebox or similar container will do. Last year, thanks to COVID, most churches provided a drive-up location to leave the boxes with volunteers, rather than taking them inside. Wood expects that both options will be available this year.
“We kind of liked being outside,” she said of last year’s experience, “as long as the weather was good.”
Last year, 8,215 boxes were collected in the Abilene area. Last year’s goal was set at 11,000 boxes, but that was before the pandemic struck.
“Once COVID happened,” Wood said, “we knew that was kind of a stretch.”
A more realistic goal of 9,000 boxes has been set for this year. One concern facing delivery of shoeboxes is the global supply chain disruption. Shipping has been affected worldwide because of COVID. Wood said Operation Christmas Child workers are asking for prayers that the children’s Christmas presents will be delivered on time.
“That’s one of our big prayer issues for this year,” she said.
Loretta Fulton is creator and editor of Spirit of Abilene