Churches col­lect gifts for Op­er­a­tion Christ­mas Child

Cecil Whig - - RELIGION - By JANE BELLMYER jbellmyer@ce­cil­whig.com

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.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF KATHY CHAMBERLIN

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.

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

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.

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