Op­er­a­tion Christ­mas Child pro­vid­ing shoe­boxes of joy

Dorchester Star - - REGIONAL -

CAM­BRIDGE — When is a shoe­box more than a con­tainer to hold shoes?

For mil­lions of chil­dren around the world who re­ceive shoe­boxes filled with toys, school sup­plies and per­sonal hy­giene items pro­vided through the ef­forts of thou­sands of churches and in­di­vid­u­als through Op­er­a­tion Christ­mas Child, a sim­ple shoe­box can be a life chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Al­though Na­tional Col­lec­tion Week starts on Mon­day, Nov. 13, and con­tin­ues through Mon­day, Nov. 20, the work of many churches in Dorch­ester County starts many months ear­lier.

Linda and Randy Brad­ford who has op­er­ated a col­lec­tion cen­ter at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church on Mary­land Av­enue in Cam­bridge for a num­ber of years spoke about this project.

“Op­er­a­tion Christ­mas Child is a part of a hu­man­i­tar­ian or­ga­ni­za­tion called Sa­mar­i­tan’s Purse led by Franklin Gra­ham that has a goal of pro­vid­ing chil­dren in need a tan­gi­ble gift to demon­strate God’s love,” Randy Brad­ford said. “For many of th­ese chil­dren, the gift filled shoe­box is the first gift they have re­ceived. We have many churches in our county who ac­tively par­tic­i­pate with over 1,100 shoe­boxes be­ing col­lected last year at this cen­ter alone and we are look­ing to have more lo­cal churches par­tic­i­pate.”

“Last year, col­lec­tion cen­ters in lower Mary­land and Delaware col­lected over 12,000 shoe­boxes and over 11,000,000 shoe­boxes were col­lected by Op­er­a­tion Christ­mas Child world­wide for needy chil­dren,” Linda Brad­ford said. “Some churches have in­di­vid­u­als who take the time to knit a scarf, cap, or mit­tens giv­ing the shoe­box a per­sonal touch and the in­clu­sion of a “wow item” cre­ate a mem­ory

mak­ing the gift even more spe­cial. The great thing is that any­one can par­tic­i­pate with lo­cal churches with a ve­hi­cle full of boxes or peo­ple who want to give and will bring an in­di­vid­ual shoe­box to us. “

Al­though the shoe­box gift is im­por­tant, that gift also pro­vides the op­por­tu­nity to share the story of Je­sus Christ and God’s Love to peo­ple who may not be able to re­ceive that mes­sage. Along with the shoe­box comes the op­por­tu­nity for the child to par­tic­i­pate in “The Great­est Jour­ney” a 12-week dis­ci­ple­ship pro­gram where they can learn from trained, lo­cal vol­un­teers what it means to fol­low Je­sus and how to share their faith with friends and fam­ily.

There are a num­ber of ways to par­tic­i­pate in this project. One way is to fill a shoe­box. Boxes can be pre­pared for Boys or Girls and fall within three age groups — 2 to 4 years; 5 to 9 years; and 9 to 12 years old.

The shoe­box can be one out of a per­son’s closet or there are shoe­boxes avail­able to fill. Items are not lim­ited to toys but should in­clude school sup­plies and per­sonal hy­giene items such as soap, tooth­brushes, and wash­cloths. Candy, tooth­paste, liq­uids or break­able items are not al­lowed. You are asked to make a $9 do­na­tion to help off­set the cost of ship­ping and pro­cess­ing your shoe­box.

Another way to par­tic­i­pate is through do­na­tion of items to the col­lec­tion cen­ter that could be pack­aged in a shoe­box for “pack­ing par­ties” or have a pack­ing party with your friends, com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions, etc. Small balls, school sup­plies such as pens, pen­cils, small tablets, crayons and col­or­ing books, col­ored pen­cils, small toys, and sim­i­lar items can be do- nated for this pur­pose.

There is a need for per­sonal hy­giene prod­ucts such as bar soap, tooth­brushes, wash­cloths, tis­sues, and sim­i­lar items. Busi­nesses that may have changed their name or lo­gos or ceased op­er­a­tions may have pen­cils, pens, writ­ing pads and sim­i­lar items that could be do­nated. Cash do­na­tions are also be­ing ac­cepted that would al­low the pur­chase of items to be used to fill boxes.

For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on how to be a part of this pro­gram, con­tact Randy Brad­ford at 410-463-1604 or St. Paul’s United Methodist Church at 410-228-1424.

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