Get our newsletters

Operation Christmas Child offers aid from angels in disguise

Posted

Americans often tend to take everything for granted: education, freedom, and the roof on top of their heads.
But for other children around the world, children who struggle to find three square meals a day, children who are so withheld from an education that they are perturbed by a mechanical pencil, children who do not even realize the magnitude of the opportunities they are restricted from, living in America would be synonymous with heaven.
Operation Christmas Child, a branch of the multinational nonprofit organization Samaritan’s Purse, is a group that strives to minimize the barriers that children in third world countries encounter by providing them with annual shoeboxes filled with school supplies, hygiene kits, and toys.
The organization, which was founded in 1993 by a man from Wales and then adopted by Samaritan’s Purse, has helped more than 188 million children across more than 170 countries and territories throughout the world.
People in communities are asked to stock shoe boxes with supplies, which are then secured at a designated drop-off location coordinated by an extensive network of area and regional coordinators. After processing the boxes to ensure that all of the contents are safe for travel overseas, the boxes are then shipped to third world countries where Samaritan’s Purse regional leaders oversee their distribution among underserved communities to children aged from 2 to 14.
“We want to share God’s love with these children,” said Amy Shaw, who, along with her husband, William, is a regional coordinator for the eastern Pennsylvania area. “When they get a shoe box, they think, ‘Who is this person who loves me so much to give me this?’”
Although filling shoeboxes with goodies requires such a small effort from the gift givers, the area coordinators and teams as well as the regional heads who supervise the process must execute the processes with perfection to regulate the collection and distribution.
“In America alone, there are over 4,000 drop-off locations,” said the Shaws. “Missions to make boxes go out to girl scouts, boy scouts, churches, community organizations, anywhere we can get the word out,” they say.
Teams from the USA, Great Britain, Spain, Germany, New Zealand, Finland, South Korea, Switzerland, and many more work codependently to enable the success of such an intricate intercontinental exchange.
But, if the 188 million children are any indication, their efforts have come to fruition. Even in turbulent times such as this one, Operation Christmas Child has not allowed the temerity induced by the pandemic to overcome their decades of work, collecting over 9.1 million shoe boxes in 2020.

Operation Christmas Child needs the help of the community this year to surpass the number of shoe boxes they collected last year. This year, the drop-off time period for the shoe boxes is between Nov. 15 and 22, and the collection locations for each county will be available at samaritanspurse.org around mid-October.
The area community is heavily invested in promoting OCC. A packing party for shoe boxes will be held at a Hatboro church on Oct. 16, and Chick-fil-A has garnered attention for OCC by giving customers coupons if they bring in supplied shoeboxes.
“We encourage people to put items in the shoeboxes that aren’t war-related or used,” said the Shaws. “We wouldn’t want to invoke any bad memories for the gift recipients.”
The Shaws suggest packing the shoeboxes with items that children would enjoy, and no liquids or glass because of the precarious nature entailed by overseas travel.
“We want them to open the gift box and say ‘Wow!’” said William Shaw.
An organization as multifaceted as this one also demands innovative, dynamic minds to continue the work of the Shaws and the many, many others who have dedicated their time to uplifting humanity. On Sept. 10 and 11, OCC will hold leadership conferences for community members who are interested in taking a more active role in the organization. Sign up is on the OCC website.
The Shaws, who have been giving a great deal of time to OCC since 1998, have been profoundly impacted by the beauty of the organization.
“I remember the happiness of a child when she first received a shoe box, said William Shaw, of a time when he attended the distribution of shoe boxes in Honduras and Paraguay. “I thought she was crying, but I realized that it was her mother, who was overcome with emotion about her child’s blessing.”
“We had always been heavily involved in OCC. But when Will retired at 58, we thought, what can we do that can be eternal and that we are passionate about? And we thought, OCC!” said Amy Shaw. “We don’t know who they are, we don’t know where they are, but we want these kids to know that there are people out there who love them.”
The benevolence of Operation Christmas Child has touched the hearts of many. And with your help in the 2021 OCC collection, it can continue to uplift humanity for generations to come. Contact occphilly@aol.com or call 484-716-9874 with any questions.


X