For the children receiving their Christmas gifts in shoeboxes collected by Operation Christmas Child, the contents need not include the latest gadgets and electronic devices in order to please.
Organizers said items that often wow recipients include stuffed animals or a soccer ball with an air pump. Other much-appreciated gifts include toy cars, dolls, clothing, hygiene items and school supplies.
Boxes are delivered to boys and girls around the world who are in need of presents and live in areas that are strongly affected by war, disease, disaster, poverty and famine.
From now until Monday, East Texans will once again have a chance to be a part of Operation Christmas Child by taking shoeboxes filled with gifts to Grace Community High School, 3001 University Blvd. Since 1996, the school has served as a collection center during the campaign, with students often participating in the effort.
Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization led by Franklin Graham. The organization hopes to collect enough shoebox gifts to reach 11 million children.
Tyler is part of the Neches River Texas Area Team, which hopes to collect more than 13,646 boxes.
“We believe these simple gifts have the ability to send a tangible message of hope to children facing difficult circumstances,” Matt McClelland, regional director said in a news release. “It is exciting to see the Tyler community come together to share the good news of Jesus Christ with millions of boys and girls around the world.”
Elaine Florey, the drop-off team leader at Grace Community High School, said the project has been a great fit for the school because it allows participants to share the love of Christ in a tangible way.
Boxes can be delivered to the school from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, noon to 2 p.m. Sunday and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday.
In addition to gift items, boxes can include a personal note or photo. Those who send boxes also are asked to pray for the recipients. Children ages 2-4, 5-9 and 10-14 will be the recipients.
Florey advises those looking for ideas about what to give the children go to www.samaritanspurse.org for an extensive list. Those who may not have time to pick up items can build a shoebox on the website. Items that cannot be included in boxes, such as toothpaste, candy or toy weapons, also are listed. Recipients are given a booklet that shares with them the message of salvation through Jesus Christ.
“It’s almost like having the opportunity to be a missionary in a country to bless a child and to share with them the mission of Jesus Christ,” Florey said.