Local churches and community members are continuing their support this year of Operation Christmas Child, an international project that aims to deliver shoe boxes full of gifts and supplies to needy kids around the globe.
This year, three churches and local bookstore Inklings are serving as collection sites where people can drop off their shoe box presents. Several other churches in the area are unofficially affiliated with the project.
In recent seasons, Yakima County residents have put together about 4,500 boxes to send out annually, said local collection site coordinator Richard Wonner. That’s his goal for this year, too.
“Many children across the world had never had a Christmas present in their life,” he said.
The shoe boxes are shipped to 130 different countries by Samaritan’s Purse, the North Carolina-based charity that coordinates the effort.
This is the 20th year of Operation Christmas Child, and organizers are hoping to reach the 100 million boxes mark.
Donors fill boxes with toys, personal hygiene items like soap, toothpaste and wash cloths, and small items of clothing like caps or mittens. Samaritan’s Purse splits kids into three different age groups between 2 and 14 years old, as well as by boys and girls, so people have more specific ideas of what to buy.
“Most people around the world love children. And if you see a child in need, you try your best to service that need,” Wonner said. “That’s one part of it that’s really easy.”
The organization also includes a religious pamphlet in the boxes for the recipients.
The four donation sites have specific hours when they are accepting shoe boxes; call the numbers listed to learn more.
You can also go online to www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/OCC/Drop_Off_Locations/ to search for a donation site by ZIP code.