AP NEWS

Small box can make big impact this Christmas

November 18, 2016 GMT

Project hopes to send 15,000 gifts, more to kids around the world

Val Hiser hopes to ship out more than 15,000 shoeboxes on Monday afternoon.

She is the coordinator for the Operation Christmas Child project that sends gifts to children across the world.

“The children these boxes will be going to are in war-torn countries or in circumstances such as famine or natural disasters,” Hiser said. “They are third-world country children who maybe never have received a gift before.”

Hiser said the Franklin Graham Association approached her about opening a relay site 12 years ago.

“Before that, I had collected boxes through MOPS for five years,” Hiser said. “Our first year we collected about 40 boxes. Once we opened the relay station, it went to 750 and has grown since then. We have shipped out between 17,000 and 20,000 boxes from this site over the years.”

Items such as school supplies, such as a tablet and a pencil, are important gifts.

“Many of the children can’t go to school if they don’t have supplies, so those things can give a child a new lease on life,” Hiser said. “We just take that stuff for granted here.”

Other items that can be shipped are hygiene items, a toothbrush and soap, a cleaning cloth and other similar things. Each box should contain a toy as well.

“A toy is to bring delight to the child,” Hiser said. “People can also send clothing, T-shirts, flip-flops, socks and things they would not be able to get otherwise.”

Hiser said she learned a lot about the impact the boxes make at a conference.

“I went to an international convention in Dallas a few years ago and there were about 20 children there who had received a box,” Hiser said. “They talked about how it changed their life.”

She said the process is simple: Folks pick up a box and fill it with various items. Once the shoeboxes are collected, they are packed and shipped to Kearney.

“They are put on big semis and shipped to either Denver or Minneapolis, depending on where our boxes are going,” Hiser said. “If they go to Denver, the boxes will be shipped south to Mexico, Guatemala and South America. If they go to Minneapolis, they go to Europe.”

Over 150 countries have received boxes from Operation Christmas Child, which started about 23 years ago.

Boxes will be collected today through from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday at Bethel E-Free Church, 2700 W. Philip Ave., and from 10 a.m. to noon on Monday.

“All we do is open the door and God sends the people,” Hiser said. “It has been such an amazing and exciting adventure for me the last 12 years to watch people come from as far as Arthur and Whitman, Thedford and Ogallala, and over to Gothenburg and south to Curtis.”