Contributed by
Sarah Freund

As the new school year approaches, Operation Christmas Child shoebox packers are making use of back-to-school prices to purchase gifts and essential items for children in need overseas. Participants are collecting school supplies, along with hygiene items and fun toys, to pack in shoeboxes. Samaritan’s Purse will deliver these gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 100 countries.

For many children, access to these simple items is critical to education as it was for Luis Gonzales, a shoebox recipient raised by a single mother in the ghetto of Panama City, Panama.

“I know what it is like to not have enough money for basic school supplies,” Gonzalez, whose experience is not uncommon for many children living in poverty, said.

One day, Gonzalez received a gift-filled shoebox from Operation Christmas Child and found it filled with the school supplies he needed. 

“My shoebox gift gave me the opportunity to pursue an education and taught me to never lose hope,” he said. “These gifts can truly impact a child’s life forever.”

For Olesea Makarets, who was born and raised in a family of nine in a small village in Moldova, the thing that stood out to her the most was a pack of colorful markers. 

“I couldn’t take my eyes off them. I didn’t know some of the colors existed. I was so excited I jumped up and started running around the room. The markers my family had at home were dried out. We would dip them in water just to make them last a little longer. I always wished I could color and draw — the markers were exactly what I wanted. I could hardly wait to show my friends at school the new markers.”

Sisters Shanika and Sherika who grew up in rural Jamaica received notebooks and pencils in their shoebox gifts at age 8. 

“Before this, our father cut a notebook and pencil in half so we’d have school supplies. We also received our first calculator — a small, gray one we still love to use. Through the shoebox gifts, we learned that you don’t have to be close neighbors in order to help each other. These gifts came from strangers”

National Collection Week is Nov. 15-22. Participants can donate $9 per shoebox gift online through “Follow Your Box” and receive a tracking label to discover its destination. Those who prefer the convenience of online shopping can browse to select gifts matched to a child’s specific age and gender, then finish packing the virtual shoebox by adding a photo and personal note of encouragement. Boxes built online go to hard-to-reach countries.

Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, seeks to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world and, together with the local church worldwide, share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 186 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 160 countries and territories.


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