While many folks are still clinging on to summer, some people are already gearing up for the season of giving. Last week representatives from Operation Christmas Child were in town promoting the project, which sends shoe boxes full of gifts to children all around the world. It’s part of Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization.
Susan Bretz is the regional area coordinator for Operation Christmas Child in Alaska and said majority of the boxes collected in the state last year went to the Philippines following the typhoon. She said anyone can send a shoebox, and typically they ask folks to include anything a child might need or want.
“School supplies are in high demand. Many of the children can’t go to school without school supplies. Right now is a great time to be getting deals on that. Hygiene items, pieces of clothing and of course toys and candy.”
Heather Foxworthy works for the Kodiak Bible Chapel but is the
center coordinator for the project here in Kodiak. She said the boxes
aren’t packed randomly.
a boy box or a girl box and then an age group. So boy or girl, and then
ages 2-4, 5-9, 10-14. So when you do a box it is a little more specific
than just random.”
Operation Christmas Child isn’t new to
Kodiak. Foxworthy said the Bible Chapel has participated in the project
for about nine years and some families around town have donates shoe
boxes since the 1990s. Last year 368 boxes were donated here in Kodiak
and were part of the 16,862 boxes collected throughout the state. As a
country the United States donated more than 7.5 million boxes to
More than 113 million boxes have been
donated since Samaritan’s Purse began the project in 1993. Foxworthy
said it’s amazing how many people in Kodiak have donated, or even
received a box.
“We have people on
Kodiak who have been shoe box recipients in the Philippines and now
they are coming and dropping off boxes hat they have packed for a family
because they have been in that same position and received a box overseas.”
While the project primarily sends boxes overseas, she
said there are places around the country and in Alaska that also receive
Loren Bretz is the Southeast area coordinator for
the project and said people interested in donating should visualize the
child they are packing a shoe box for and what they might enjoy.
“Because you don’t know what their
situation is but you know you’re not just giving them necessities,
you’re bringing them fun and joy and letting them know that somebody on
the other side of the world cares about them. And I encourage people to
write a note in it also. I actually received several contacts back from
giving last year and it was really neat to answer back to them and hear
what the shoe box meant to them.”
The Bible Chapel collects many
of the shoe boxes donated each year, but Foxworthy said a number of
other churches, organizations and schools collect them, too. Folks can
find a full list of places to bring their box, and choose a box to
donate by visiting samaritanspurse.org. You can also ask for a tracking
number for your box and follow where in the world it might be delivered.
Boxes are typically collected in the end of November, but
Kodiak collects boxes a little earlier to account for delayed shipping.
While organizers set their sights on delivering the boxes by Christmas
they can’t control customs operations in different countries so
sometimes they are delivered well after the fact.