School supply shopping is an annual ritual for many students heading back to school. In the search this year to meet so many personal needs amid all the shopping sprees and sales, many families in the Chipley area are looking beyond themselves and considering the difference a pencil, pen, or notepad would make in the lives of needy children who attempt to study under very different conditions in many other countries.
For many children living in impoverished and war-torn conditions, lack of the most basic kinds of school supplies can sometimes mean the difference in whether they attend school. With some discounted back-to-school sale opportunities at hand, however, a number of Chipley-area families are stocking up to support Operation Christmas Child, a massive, year-round project in which volunteers pack shoeboxes with toys, school supplies, hygiene items and notes of encouragement for children in poverty across the globe.
“Utilizing back-to-school sales allows you to pack more shoe boxes than you were able to before,” said Eddie Eaton, of Westville, who is part of the OCC effort. “It makes me so happy to know I can bless more children while sticking to a budget, too. I try and let all my family and friends know about the great deals I find, and I encourage them to pick up items for their shoe boxes.”
Last year, nearly 500 volunteers collected almost 400,000 shoebox gifts from the Florida and Puerto Rico community alone. The gifts were then delivered to children in 35 countries spanning five different continents.