Operation Christmas Child

Volunteers on Friday load boxes of donations for this year’s Operation Christmas Child program.

It’s national collection week for Samaritan Purse’s Operation Christmas Child. The faith-based international toy drive has set a goal of 28,000 boxes packed from Southwest Louisiana residents and the oddities of 2020 have not deterred the organization from its mission, Keri Hawkins, area coordinator, said.

 With final collections ending Monday, Nov. 23 at 5 p.m., Operation Christmas Child has six contactless drop off locations throughout the region: Life United, Lake Charles, First Baptist Church, Gillis, Unity Baptist Church, DeRidder, First Baptist Church, DeQuincy, First Baptist Church, Jennings and The Grand, Kinder. “Our mission is to provide God’s love in a tangible way to children that are in need around the world,” Hawkins, said.

The contactless drop off includes a curb side service where volunteers will greet guests and collect the boxes. “You just follow the signs around the property. It’s a completely touchless process.”

 Donors pack a medium sized shoe box with one “wow” item like a doll or ball and pump, essential hygiene items, school supplies and smaller prize items. “A lot of times this is the only gift the child receives,” Hawkins said.

 Upon drop off, the boxes are to be labeled “boy” or “girl” and left unsealed. Hawkins also suggested leaving a friendly note for the recipient.

 If donors are unable to collect supplies on their own, www.samaritanspurse.org allows donors to “virtually” pack a box for $25. The online box packing takes place year-round and is an important element of the mission which is committed to distributing 11 million boxes in 160 countries, Hawkins said.

 For an additional $9 donors can print a label online that helps with shipping and printing costs, training churches and tracking the box to its final destination. “Some of my boxes have been to Mexico, Jamaica, Panama and Africa. It’s just a wide variety of countries that they go to and I love seeing the new place each year.”

 Before each box is packed for final shipment, Operation Christmas Child adds a pamphlet that “tells the story of Jesus Christ and salvation through Him” printed in the language of the recipient.  A donor and volunteer with Samaritan’s Purse for over 20 years, Hawkins said the organization’s mission keeps her returning each year.

“I have a true passion for this ministry because it reaches children. I have a true passion for child to know the Good News and great news of Jesus Christ which is our only way for salvation,” she said.  “It’s my goal to reach as many children as I can for Jesus Christ.”

 The gift a child receives through Operation Christmas Child is a gift that “multiplies,” she added, because of the Bible lessons and discipleship training children receive along with the box. “That way the gift not only touches the child but it touches the family as well.”

 To learn more of find a drop off location visit, www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-Christmas-child.

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