By Wayne Allen
Local officials with Operation Christmas Child (OCC) are reminding people back to school time could also be a good time to stock up on supplies for your OCC Gospel Opportunities Shoe Boxes.
“We’re having two packing parties (this year). One at Cornerstone United Methodist Church on Saturday, October 11 at 9:30 a.m. We’re going to pack 7,000 gospel opportunities (OCC Boxes)” said Gaylene St. Leger Cox, a local volunteer with OCC. “Shawnee State University is also having a packing party this year. It will be held in the fall, closer to national collection week which is the third week in November.”
She said it’s the goal of the Shawnee State University Packing Party to pack 2,000 gospel opportunities.
St. Leger Cox said they are in the process of organizing and gathering the necessary items for the packing parties. Thousands of items are needed including notebooks and crayons among many other items.
She said the group was able to get the 7,000 needed notebooks. “We were able to get the notebooks from the Chillicothe Wal-Mart,” St. Leger Cox said. “Though there is still a need for notebooks for the Shawnee State Packing Party. They are in the process of collecting their items and are in the process of organizing fundraisers.”
St. Leger Cox said there is still a need for boxes of crayons.
“We are in desperate need of crayons. To date we have 4,659 of the 7,000 needed for the Cornerstone packing party. We also need 28,000 pencils, because we wish to pack four pencils in each box, so children are able to go to school,” St. Leger Cox said.
She said the group has had come success finding some of the needed items online.
“For anyone wishing to pack a shoe box or two, this is the best time of year to buy not just school items, items that are on sale,” St. Leger Cox said. “When you combine store values with weekly coupons, your making your dollar go much farther, for a child in need.”
She said in addition to needed supplies, there is also a need for monetary donations.
St. Leger Cox said the monetary donations are needed to purchase items and to pay for shipping and handling of the boxes.
“The shipping and handling alone for our 7,000 shoe boxes is, $42,000,” St. Leger Cox said. “Each box is seven dollars, for for shipping and handling. not all boxes cost seven dollars to ship, a box two year ago cost $28 to ship to the farthest reaches of Asia.”
She said there are plans at Shawnee State University to hold a 5k race to raise funds for OCC and to purchase needs supplies. St. Leger Cox said other fundraisers are in the works including bake sales and a booth at River Days.
Every year the 10-county southeast region of Operation Christmas Child that includes Scioto County, sets a goal of how may gospel opportunities they would like to collect. This years goal for the ten region is 46,000. St. Leger Cox said this years goal represents a 15 percent increase from last years goal.
When asked if that goal was attainable, St. Leger Cox said, “yes, with God all things are possible.”
“Despite the economic downturn that we’ve had off and one for the last, ten years we have have increased the number of gospel opportunities sent every year. Since 1993, more than 100 million shoe boxes have been sent to children in 130 countries,” St. Leger Cox said.
St. Leger Cox went on to praise the efforts of all of the volunteers it takes to make OCC work every year as remarkable.
“All of this is evident in the number and variety of people that help and help prepare for the packing party each year,” St. Leger Cox said. “The packing party is not just a one day event, but something we work on all year.”
For more information about Operation Christmas Child visit, www.samaritanspurse.org or call St. Leger Cox at 330-904-5873.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT