Operation Christmas Child to collect donations this week

November 14, 2018

Operation Christmas Child is a go.

On Monday, shoeboxes filled with hygiene products, school supplies, religious material and toys started to make their way to Highland Park Church at 4115 38th St. Gennie Griffin, the local drop-off coordinator for Operation Christmas Child, said they will eventually be in the hands of children around the world.

“Each of these boxes represents a kid that gets to hear about God and Jesus for the first time,” Griffin said. “They go to countries where these kids may have never ever even received a gift at all.”

Operation Christmas Child is put on by international relief organization Samaritan’s Purse. The initiative will deliver these shoeboxes filled with goodies to children across 160 countries and territories. Collection of the shoeboxes and supplies began on Monday at 30 different drop-off locations across Nebraska, including Highland Park Church in Columbus.

Donated items include stuffed animals, deflated soccer balls with pumps, pencils, sharpeners, coloring books, combs, toothbrush and bars of soap. These items are packaged and shipped out around the world in average sized shoeboxes or special Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes purchased either online, at Hobby Lobby or at local drop-off locations.

Volunteers like Carol Oglevie, of Columbus, sort through those donated items and boxes to ensure everything is appropriate and ready to ship. This is the first year she has volunteered with the program to help sort.

“My husband and I have always donated boxes, so we kind of know the process,” Oglevie said. “But it’s so exciting to see them start coming in, and Gennie is so excited, it’s contagious.”

Ron Lund, also of Columbus, said that volunteering for the program is a good use of his time now that he has it.

“I’m retired now, and I just feel like the Lord has blessed me with so much stuff,” Lund said. “Hopefully the Lord will bless the use of my time in projects such as this.”

Griffin said they have collected about 125 boxes so far on their first day alone. Last year, the church collected about 380 boxes and 370 the year before. This year, Griffin said she hopes to collect 500.

“But even if we don’t (meet our goal), even if we fall short, those are still kids getting gifts,” Griffin said. “And that’s what we’re here for.”

Highland Park Church will be collecting boxes and gifts until Monday, Nov 19. If you would like to donate or are interested in volunteering your time to help sort, more information is available at www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/drop-off-locations.

Eric Schucht is a reporter with The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.

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