Operation Christmas Child gets underway

Ruth Gray, the coordinator for the Land Between the Lakes Area, led a workshop Saturday for area leaders taking part in the annual Operation Christmas Child benevolent event that sends presents to children around the world.

Local leaders in Operation Christmas Child came together Saturday at First Baptist Church in Princeton to help prepare for the annual donation drive to benefit children around the world.

Operation Christmas Child is sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical organization led by Franklin Graham. Participants fill shoeboxes as they would a care package, with toys, hygiene needs, small books and other items.

Operation Christmas Child was created in 1990 by Dave Cooke and his wife Gill for children in Romania. Each November, thousands of churches, schools, groups and individual donors prepare and collect shoeboxes filled with toys, school supplies, personal items and other small gifts.

Ruth Gray, the Land Between the Lakes Area coordinator, led Saturday’s workshop and said anyone can participate in Operation Christmas Child.

“People can go online to samaritanspurse.org,” she said. “It will tell them who to contact and things to do, or they can contact me, as the area coordinator.”

People can pack those items in a standard shoebox. Operation Christmas Child also has plastic shoeboxes that are more sturdy than cardboard boxes.

Items should not be taken out of their wrapping, nor should liquids be part of the package.

“People can pack hygiene items like a comb, soap, toothbrush or washcloth, and school items such as paper, pencils or solar-operated calculators,” she said. “They can put in a toy or game, like a yoyo or game or a stuffed animal. Suggested items can also be found on that website.

“There are three different age groups: 2 to 4, 5 to 9 and 10 to 14, boys and girls in each one.”

The present-filled shoeboxes go from local areas to processing centers before being sent to children around the world. At the workshop, Gray showed a Samaritan’s Purse video that showed children living in small island groups in the Pacific Ocean whom the organization is focusing on helping.

“We have cardboard boxes at (First Baptist Church) for anybody in our area who would like to have some,” Gray said.

Participants have until Nov. 23 to bring filled shoeboxes to participating locations.

“(First Baptist Church) collects them on the third week of November from our seven counties,” Gray said. “That includes Caldwell, Crittenden, Lyon, Trigg, Christian, Hopkins, Muhlenberg and Todd counties.”

People wanting to take part in Operation Christmas Child can call or text Gray at 270-836-8028 for more information.