As the new school year approaches, Trish Shaffer is working on a lengthy school supply list, not for herself, but for children in need overseas.
Utilizing back-to-school sales and the tax holiday, Shaffer and her church family are collecting school supplies, along with hygiene items and fun toys, to pack in shoeboxes. Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, will deliver these gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 100 countries.
West Portsmouth volunteer Trish Shaffer has packed shoebox gifts 24 years. Over the years, with her family, members of her Nauvoo UMC church family and packing parties that she has organized, Shafer has packed a few thousand shoeboxes. These simple shoeboxes were lovingly filled with crayons, coloring books, notebooks, pencils, hygiene items, flip flops, dolls, stuffed animals and WOW items like soccer balls. Shaffer marvels, “We continue to be amazed at the generosity and goodness of area people.”
For many children, access to these simple items is essential to an education—as it was for Luis Gonzalez, 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,” said Gonzalez, whose experience is not uncommon for many children living in poverty. 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. These gifts can truly impact a child’s life forever,” said Gonzalez who shared his life-changing shoebox story at Temple Baptist last year.
For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, call the Southern Ohio Area Team Coordinator Sherrie Klingaman at 740 395-6468, or visit samaritanspurse.org/occ.
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 samaritanspurse.org/buildonline 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.
Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world and, together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 168 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 160 countries and territories.
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