Local, area churches collecting boxes of gifts for Operation Christmas Child as a way to share Christianity with the less fortunate around the world
By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
Since 1993, more than 100 million boys and girls in more than 130 countries have experienced God’s love through the power of simple shoebox gifts from Operation Christmas Child.
OCC was created in 1990 by Dave Welsh and Jill Cooke for children in Romania. Welsh later contacted Franklin Graham, son of the Rev. Billy Graham to ask if he’d like to assist in getting more shoeboxes packed for children in Eastern Europe.
Franklin Graham came through after partnering with a church and others. Dave Welsh later stopped OCC because it got too big for him, but Graham would continue on as president of the “global Christmas gift exchange” project from Samaritan’s Purse.
Samaritan’s Purse works with local churches and ministry partners to deliver the gifts and share the life-changing Good News of Jesus Christ.
Each November, OCC opens to thousands of locations, typically at churches or schools, to collect shoeboxes filled with toys, school supplies, personal items and other gifts. Volunteers for OCC begin working in September and finish with a worldwide collection week near the middle of November.
Groups, families and individuals in 11 countries, including the United States, pack shoe boxes with gifts selected for a child of a specific age range and gender (for either a boy or a girl, and either in the 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14 age range), and the most common items placed in the boxes are school supplies, small toys and hygiene products. These boxes are then distributed as Christmas gifts, accompanied by Christian literature.
This year, National Collection Week for OCC is set for Nov. 18-24, and many area churches are participating in the project. First Southern Baptist Church of Liberal is participating in OCC and will serve as the area drop-off for shoeboxes.
Other churches taking part in collecting presents for kids overseas include First Christian Church of Hugoton, Hooker’s Gospel of Grace Church, South Church of God in Liberal, Emmanuel Southern Baptist of Liberal, Church For All Nations of Liberal and First Baptist Church of Liberal.
The boxes are taken to the Samaritan's Purse headquarters in Boone, N.C., and will be delivered to children worldwide.
The boxes are collected by Samaritan’s Purse and shipped to developing countries, where they are distributed mostly by National Leadership Teams of local evangelical pastors and followers drawn from religious, government and community organizations.
For more information, call First Southern Baptist at 624-0186.