Operation Christmas Child sends boxes of goodies around the world
The program is sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse, a nondenominational, evangelical Christian organization with a stated mission of “providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people, around the world,” according to www.samaritanspurse.org.
Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has distributed shoeboxes full of toys, hygiene products and other items, to children around the world. The church, which has been acting as a local relay center, has been collecting donations from Springville, Sardinia, Gowanda and other surrounding towns, for the past 14 years.
A statement from Samaritan’s Purse said that it reached the 100 million boxes mark during its National Collection Week, Nov. 12 – 19.
Bly said that it all began when friends of hers, Rob and Nina Hansen, returned from a seminar for medical missionaries, where they had first heard about this type of project.
“They told us about Operation Christmas Child and we looked into how to get involved,” Bly said. “Samaritan’s Purse is very well organized.” She noted that many people, including herself, will look for shoebox items all year long, to send to the children, at Christmas. Individuals, schools, businesses and other organizations all send shoeboxes to First Presbyterian, to add to the piles of presents.
“It’s a big, thick, colorful book,” Bly continued. “[Volunteers] work with the children for weeks, teaching them about Jesus. Sometimes, this is the only Christmas gift that child has ever seen. I’ve heard all kinds of stories about how [Operation Christmas Child has] touched these children’s lives, and it’s just so heartwarming and so amazing to hear.”
In addition to Operation Christmas Child, Samaritan’s Purse also leads disaster relief and other evangelical efforts, which Bly called “a really amazing outreach ministry.”
The church also participates in other charity organizations and drives, in the area, including Warm the Children and Love In The Name of Christ.
Bly noted that she and her husband Steven “could not do it without” the 35 other volunteers who have helped with this program.
“So many people have donated their time and helped us put it all together,” she said. “It’s so much about the kids, about this good that can be done, that it’s very exciting to see it all come together and spread the word, about this ministry.”
More information about Operation Christmas Child may be found at www.samaritanspurse.org or by calling 1-800-353-5949.