Operation Shoebox in full swing

Published 7:58 am Thursday, November 17, 2011

Christmas is a month after Thanksgiving but shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child must be wrapped and ready no later than Sunday.

Operation Christmas Child is the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind. Each year, the Salem-Troy Baptist Association serves as a Relay Center where thousands of gift-filled shoeboxes are collected to be sent to children around the world whose only Christmas will be what’s in those shoeboxes.

Linda Adams, Salem-Troy Baptist Association’s interim director, said 3,000 shoeboxes were donated by people in Pike County and the surrounding areas last year.

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“People are very generous and Operation Christmas Child has become a tradition for a lot of people in our area,” Adams said. “We have already received a lot of shoeboxes and expect many more before the deadline on Sunday.”

The Salem-Troy Baptist Association is the Relay Center for the Pike County area and will accept shoeboxes from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. today and Friday and from 10 a.m. until noon on Saturday and from 2 until 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Adams said plastic boxes may be packed instead of shoeboxes, however, she suggested that the smaller plastic boxes be used.

“The larger boxes will hold enough items to fill two regular boxes,” she said. “So, it would be better to fill two smaller boxes than one large one because two children could have Christmas instead of one.”

Adams said that restricted items for the shoeboxes are soldiers, toy tanks or anything else war related and anything liquid.

“Toilet items such as soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and bath cloths are always good,” she said. “Socks are and T-shirts are needed items and toys, hard candy and school supplies are things that the children enjoy.”

Children all around the world receive the Christmas gift shoeboxes so Adams said the boxes are checked every carefully at the Atlanta processing center before they are shipped.

“Cow and other farm animals and Barbie dolls cannot be included in the boxes that are sent to ‘closed countries,’” she said.

For the past several years, Adams has been one of the volunteers who check the shoeboxes before they leave the country.

“In Atlanta, every shoebox is opened and its contents checked to make sure that nothing is included that is on the restricted list,” she said. “The boxes that can be sent to closed countries are placed in a different area.”

Each shoebox includes a message of God’s love in the language of that country.

“That’s what Operation Christmas Child is all about, sharing God’s love,” Adams said.

Those who have not packed a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child still have time to do so.

“The last shoeboxes will be accepted on Sunday afternoon,” Adams said. “It will then be another year before we have this opportunity to make Christmas special for so many children and tell them of God’s love.”

Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse. Franklin Graham is the president. The effort has hand-delivered 86 million gifts to children in 100 countries since 1993