Operation Christmas Child hosts holiday collection

Shoe boxes collected this week will go to children overseas

MECOSTA AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES — A shoe box full of gifts might seem small to a child in America, but to a child in Bosnia, it may be all they receive for Christmas. Through Operation Christmas Child, Mecosta County area residents are invited to join thousands of people across the U.S. to fill empty shoe boxes with toys, school supplies and necessity items for impoverished children around the world. “Sometimes we take it for granted that we’re able to open the drawer and pull out pencil or box of crayons or a tooth brush,” said media relations volunteer Jennifer Hegenauer. “This is a really simple way to have an impact on the life of a child.” Individuals can select an age range and pack a shoe box with items relevant to a child that age. Items such as stuffed animals, paper, small toys, hard candies and personal care items like toothpaste, toothbrushes and wash cloths all are accepted. “School supplies are really great because these kids don’t necessarily have them,” Hegenauer said. “I’ve even heard of small tool kits going into boxes meant for older children. Giving them that kind of gift, you may actually be giving them the tools they need to get a job or to help an entire village.” Operation Christmas Child is a project of international Christian relief and evangelism organization Samaritan’s Purse, headed by Franklin Graham. The outreach is the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind. Through the power of a simple gift and the message of hope through Jesus Christ, the organization shows children they are not forgotten. For many of these children, the shoe box gift will be the first gift they’ve ever received. In 2012, Operation Christmas Child expects to reach a milestone — collecting and delivering shoe boxes to more than 100 million children since the project began in 1993. Local residents are eager to contribute shoe box gifts to this year’s global collection goal of 9 million gift-filled shoe boxes in order to help surpass the 100 million milestone. LeRoy resident Angie Tower first participated in the Operation Christmas Child program when her children were 11, 7 and 3 years old. Each year, they packed boxes for children the same age. “My kids had so much fun picking the stuff to send,” Tower said. “It helped them to learn to give and to be grateful for what they have, seeing that they were going to get a lot for Christmas and these kids were just going to get a box.” Spending less than $25 on each box, Tower said participating in the program serves as a simple way to make a big impact. “It is such an inexpensive way to help a child at Christmas time and a great way to reach people in the name of Jesus,” she said. Once the boxes are packaged, they can be taken to regional drop-off sites around the state. In the Mecosta County area, boxes can be dropped off from Monday to Nov. 19 at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Big Rapids. After boxes are collected, they are processed, prepared and transported to suffering children in more than 100 countries using whatever means necessary — trains, airplanes, boats, elephants, bikes and even dog sleds — to get the shoe boxes into the hands of needy kids. By using special tracking technology, participants can “follow” their shoe box and discover the country in which their gift will be hand-delivered to a child in need. To register your shoe box gift, use the “Follow Your Box” form online. To participate in Operation Christmas Child, individuals should log on to
and select an age range to purchase presents for. For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, call St. Peter’s Lutheran Church at (231) 796-6684.
SHOEBOX DROP-OFF TIMES Packed shoe boxes can be dropped off at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, located at 408 W. Bellevue St. in Big Rapids, during the following drop-off times.
  • Nov 14, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Nov 15, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Nov 16, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Nov 17, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Nov 18, 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Nov 19, 9 a.m. to 2