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Shoebox ministry brings Christmas cheer

Pike Countians can be a part of a worldwide ministry that brings the joy of Christmas to thousands of children who would have no Christmas if it were not for the simple gifts tucked inside a box.

Operation Christmas Child brings joy and hope to children in desperate situations through gift-filled shoe boxes and the Good News of God’s love, said Linda Adams, administration assistant of Salem-Troy Baptist Association, which is a collection center for Pike County and the surrounding area.

As of Monday afternoon, Adams said the number of shoe boxes is running ahead of last year’s collections.

“We’ve already collected more than 1,500 shoe boxes, so it’s possible that we can top the 3,000 shoe boxes that were collected here in Pike County for Operation Christmas Child last year,” Adams said.

Many churches are participating in the 2008 Operation Christmas Child project, as well as individuals who want to open their hearts to children in need this Christmas season.

“There’s still plenty of time to pack a shoe box,” Adams said. “We’ll continue collecting shoe boxes through Sunday, Nov. 23, and the boxes will be delivered to Montgomery on Monday, Nov. 24. From there, they will be trucked to a warehouse in Atlanta to be shipped to children around the world.

Collection times are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Thursday; 8 a.m. To noon on Friday; 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday; and 1 until 3 p.m. on Sunday.

“We encourage anyone who would like to pack a shoe box gift for Operation Christmas Child to do so,” Adams said. “This is a worldwide project so there are many children who can be served.”

The shoe boxes should be designated boy or girl and also by the age appropriateness. Suggested items include toys, toothpaste, toothbrushes, school supplies, hard candy, t-shirts, socks, coloring books, crayons, caps, sunglasses, jewelry and other similar items.

Do not include used items, war-related items, chocolate or food, liquids or lotions, medications or vitamins, breakable items or aerosol cans.

Each shoe box should include an envelope with a donation of $7 to help cover shipping and other project costs. A note to the child or a family photo may be included in a separate envelope.

A rubber band should be placed around each closed shoe box.

The boxes should be delivered this week to the Salem-Troy Baptist Association during collection hours.

Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, which is led by Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham.