Churches collect gifts for Operation Christmas Child
NORTH EAST — Get your shoe boxes packed and ready for shipping, because next week is crunch time for Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse.
The week of Nov. 13-20 is National Collection Week.
Churches and organizations all over Cecil County participate in the annual giving campaign that challenges people to see how much can be placed inside a simple shoe box for a needy child in an impoverished country.
Once again this year, First Baptist Church on Mechanics Valley Road in North East will be a collection point, or relay center. Nancy Hudler and her husband, Robert, are the coordinators.
“At our relay center we take all the boxes and put them in cartons,” she said. “We’re kind of the first step.”
First Baptist Church on Delaware Avenue in Elkton has also become a “first step.” Both churches will have hours each day for people to drop off their packed shoe boxes.
But the real first step is for generous souls to buy such items as hair brushes, tooth brushes, school supplies, small toys and puzzles and fit them into a standard shoe box. Hudler said one of the big changes this year is what cannot go into the boxes.
“You can no longer put in toothpaste or candy,” she said, noting that customs laws have changed on those items, along with powdered drink mixes, chocolates, liquids, breakables and fruit snacks.
Instead, place pencils, pens, erasers and pencil sharpeners in the box along with lined paper, color pencils or crayons, coloring books, stuffed animals, dolls, cars and trucks or other simple toys. Clothing, flip-flops, a wash cloth or plastic mirror would also be welcome.
Consider whether the box will be for a girl or a boy, and from what age category: broken down into 2-4, 5-9 and 10-14 years of age.
A personal note to the recipient can also be added.
While there will be plenty of labels available at the church, Hudler said people can also go online at samaritanspurse.org and on the Operation Christmas Child link there is a way to pay the $9 shipping fee and print out a label for each box.
“It will have a bar code and you will get an email to know where your boxes went,” Hudler said, noting her gifts last year went to children in the African nations of Rwanda and Malawi.
At North East, the drop-off times are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 13-18; from 1 to 3 p.m. Nov. 19 and 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Nov. 20.
In Elkton, they are accepting boxes from 9 a.m. to noon Nov. 13-14, from 4 to 8 p.m. Nov. 15, and back to 9 a.m. to noon through Nov. 20.
Hudler is looking forward to seeing if any records will be broken.
“This is our 18th year. The first year we collected 600 boxes. Last year was close to 2,200,” she said. “We usually do around 2,500.”
According to Samaritan’s Purse, part of Franklin Graham Ministries, 11.4 million shoe boxes were distributed last year.
Members of Immaculate Conception/St. Jude’s Parish gathered for a Public Rosary Rally at noon on Saturday, Oct. 14 in honor of the 100th anniversary of our Lady of Fatima. The rally was one of 21, 570 held simultaneously throughout the country.
Nancy Hudler and Sharon Hodanics are seen packing shipping cartons with Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes at a previous relay center operation at First Baptist Church of North East. The boxes full of toys, school supplies, candy and hygiene items, will go to impoverished areas around the globe.