“It’s a great honor to be part of this wonderful ministry,” says Barb Stanley of Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child (OCC). Barb and her husband Dave are local team leaders for the annual shoebox collections for Operation Christmas Child.
Chances are, you are familiar with the shoebox project, but for those who are not, each year churches, schools, families and individuals all over the world donate shoeboxes containing gift items to be delivered to children living in dire poverty worldwide.
Last year Hernando County generated 10,066 shoe box gifts and this year the bar is set higher.
“This year, our goal is 10,876,” Barb remarked.
Barb and Dave were able to make the trip to the OCC Atlanta processing facilities, one of eight such facilities for Samaritan’s Purse OCC. At the, processing facilities boxes go through an elaborate packing process and are readied for shipment overseas.
“We felt the energy and saw how big the effort really is. It’s a really big operation,” she exclaimed.
Each year, local efforts for OPP begin in early Spring. Volunteers begin talking to donating organizations at that time which includes churches, Girl Scout troops as well as Hobby Lobby. The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office is always a participant as well, Barb said.
Hobby Lobby customers can purchase shoebox-size plastic containers and items to pack in the shoebox gifts at all Hobby Lobby stores through the middle of November.
“We are delighted to partner with Operation Christmas Child to help show God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world,” said David Green, Founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby. “This initiative will touch countless lives with a Christmas gift and the greatest gift of all–the good news of Jesus Christ.”
Barb emphasizes that the children receiving the boxes have quite possibly never received a gift of any kind before. While OCC provides a recommendation list on their website, Barb says that each box should contain some “must have” items like a bar of soap, a toothbrush and school supplies. For many of these children, they cannot attend school if they do not have the necessary supplies. Other useful gifts include a sewing kit or tools. She also says that there should be one “wow” gift. She advises to put a note in the box to personalize it. It’s also a way to possibly learn about the child who received your box if they are able to write to you. Each box requires a $9 donation to cover shipping and military costs.
At www.samaritanspurse.org/occ in addition to finding instructions on how to pack a box and gift suggestions by gender, you can also print out “follow your box tracking labels” and build a box online. If you make your $9 donation online, then you “can Follow Your Box and receive a tracking label.”
When the child receives the gift box, they also are given a children’s book about God’s love. Barb states that primarily, the goal of Samaritan’s Purse and OCC is to present God’s love and the Gospel to people all over the world.
Barb mentioned that last year, Puerto Rico donated 85,000 shoeboxes, but this year with the destruction of Hurricane Maria, the island is on the receiving end. OCC is requesting that everyone pack an extra box this year specifically to go to Puerto Rico.
The organization hopes to bring shoebox gifts to 12 million children this year.
"We are honored to join the nationwide effort to collect gift-filled shoeboxes for children who may have never experienced the true meaning of Christmas," said Regional Director Cindy Beyer. "Through these simple gifts and a message of hope, children learn that God loves them and has not forgotten them.”
To learn more about packing your shoebox go to:
The shoebox dropoff site in Brooksville is located at:
First Baptist Church of Brooksville
420 Howell Avenue
Brooksville FL 34601-2043
Mon, Nov. 13: 8:30 AM - 2PM
Tue, Nov. 14: 9AM - 2PM
Wed, Nov. 15: 10AM -2PM
Thu, Nov. 16: 9AM - 2PM
Fri, Nov. 17: 10AM - 2PM
Sat, Nov. 18: 9AM - 2PM
Sun, Nov. 19: 12PM - 2PM
Mon, Nov. 20: 8:30 AM - 10:30 AM