Giving joy one shoebox at a time
Nearly 19,500 shoeboxes full of small gifts for children have left the area for distribution around the world. As part of the gift giving program fifteen people from the Shepherdstown area leave Dec. 5 to meet shoeboxes at their next step.
A delegation from Covenant Baptist Church have traveled to North Carolina for several years to help Operation Christmas Child complete the assembly of the gift boxes. This season, Baltimore is their destination. They will meet up with an expected 92,000 volunteers working nationwide.
“It’s amazing to work with so many people. There are rows of tables, forty to fifty or more, with people on both sides,” explained Bonnie Auvil. “You can’t imagine until you’ve experienced.”
Operation Christmas Child requests specific items to include and not include in each shoebox. The Shepherdstown area volunteers will remove items that melt, or leak, or resemble military or political figures. Others will add donated items back into a lite box.
Fifteen year old Marisa Ambrutis donated over 12 shoeboxes. She will join 25 area teens and adults traveling to the Operation Christmas Child assembly line on Dec. 20.
“There are just boxes everywhere, so many you can’t count them all. It’s fun to see everyone working together and to imagine the kids who will get them is fun,” Ambrutis said. The kids who will get them live in developing nations around the globe.
Covenant Church is the major collection point for six counties. They spent the better part of two months receiving the gift boxes in their entrance hall.
Organizer Bob McHenry explains the enormity of what each person’s effort is a part of, “Every box is a child. You impact a child for the rest of their lives. They don’t go to countries. They go to organizations who distributed directly.”
One hundred and thirty two boxes were donated by one local woman and her daughter.
Nov. 24 was load-up day. Nine large truck loads of shoeboxes filled with gifts arrived in the church parking lot, and volunteers filled two and a half tractor trailers with the gift boxes. That shipment is now in North Carolina processing through a center like the one in Baltimore.
An operation like the Christmas boxes is actually a year round project. Shipping and distributing after the holidays can take months. McHenry and his wife expect to go next March to distribute boxes in the Dominican Republic.
Anyone can fill and donate a shoebox at any time of year. For a listing of what goes inside any box visit the interactive website at samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child