With holiday supplies already covering the store shelves, individuals, families, churches and groups in Bay, Jackson, and surrounding counties are working to make Christmas a reality for needy kids around the world by filling shoeboxes with toys, school supplies, hygiene items and notes of encouragement. Operation Christmas Child, the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind, is ramping up as residents in Panama City Beach and throughout the area prepare to collect 12,000 gift-filled shoeboxes during National Collection Week, November 18–25.
At local collection sites in the Panama City Beach area, for example, anyone can drop off a gift-filled shoebox to send to a child overseas. Then using whatever means necessary—trucks, trains, boats, bikes, and even elephants—the shoebox gifts will be delivered to children worldwide. For many children, the shoebox gift will be the first gift they have ever received.
Though the shoebox gifts will often travel thousands of miles, Operation Christmas Child offers a way for participants to follow their box by using the donation form found at samaritanspurse.org. Donors will receive an email telling the country where their shoeboxes are delivered.
Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 100 million shoebox gifts to suffering children in more than 100 countries since 1993. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, Operation Christmas Child hopes to collect another 9.8 million gift-filled shoeboxes in 2013. Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham.
For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, call (407) 852-3727 or visit samaritanspurse.org. National Collection Week for gift-filled shoeboxes is Nov. 18-25; however, shoebox gifts are collected all year at the Samaritan’s Purse headquarters in Boone, N.C. Participants can also build a box through an online tool offering a personalized and convenient way to send a gift to a child in one of the hardest-to-reach countries.