Operation Christmas Child sends a clarion call forth for Christmas

Gleny Laffitte is the coordinator this year for Samaritan’s Purse, a nonprofit organization that collects shoeboxes full of Christmas gifts for needy children all over the world. Drop off dates to Memorial Baptist Church are Nov. 14-21.

WHEATLAND – Again this year, Platte County will have a big part in the Samaritan’s Purse ministry of giving gifts to needy children all over the world.

As children, shoeboxes were saved for letters, baseball cards and treasures. For Operation Christmas Child they have become a gift of hope and the message that people half-a-world away truly care.

In Platte County Operation Christmas Child is once again alive and well and are asking people from all over the county to participate by filling a shoebox full of Christmas gifts which will be gathered, loaded and trailered to CrossPoint Fellowship Church in Cheyenne en route to the main distribution center in Denver. 

According to this year’s coordinator Gleny Laffitte,  “The boxes are shipped out to other countries from each processing center. Denver is where the boxes from our community will go when they leave Cheyenne.”

According to Samaritan’s Purse International Relief which has been operating for over 50 years, “The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to provide 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.”

A ministry that is headed up by Franklin Graham, son of the late Rev. Billy Graham, Samaritan’s Purse developed the mission within the ministry in 1993.

Samaritan’s Purse’s website says, “In the summer of 1993, Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham received a call from a man in England asking if he’d be willing to fill shoeboxes with gifts for children in war-torn Bosnia. Franklin agreed, but figured Christmas was months away. He forgot about the promise until he received a call back around Thanksgiving asking about the gifts.

“In the midst of the pandemic, children around the world need to know that God loves them and there is hope,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse. “A simple shoebox gift opens the door to share about the true hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ.”

Franklin asked his friend the late Pastor Ross Rhoads of Calvary Church of Charlotte to see if he could help with the need. A Sunday shortly afterward, Pastor Rhoads demonstrated for his congregation how to fill a shoebox with simple gifts and encouraged them to include a letter to the child as well. Within weeks, the church had 11,000 shoeboxes lining their hallways.”

Operation Christmas Child has been collecting and delivering shoebox gifts—filled with school supplies, hygiene items and fun toys—to children worldwide. This is a project that everyone can still be a part of, even with COVID-19 restrictions.

Individuals, families, and groups still have time to transform empty shoeboxes into fun gifts. The project partners with local churches across the globe to deliver these tangible expressions of God’s love to children in need. Find a step-by-step guide on the How to Pack a Shoebox webpage.

More than 4,000 locations will open to collect Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts for the Samaritan’s Purse project. Volunteers are preparing to collect shoebox gifts during National Collection Week, Nov. 15 – 22, offering a curbside option.

“Wheatland Bible Church used to be the drop-off center in Wheatland,” said Cindy Witt who attends Memorial Baptist and who was the overseer for last year’s donation center.

The drop-off center can collect boxes for a week prior to loading the trailer to ship to Cheyenne, and boxes are filled by people all year long. The shoe boxes can be picked up from Family Dollar Store or can be ordered online and can be plastic or cardboard.

People can also use regular shoe boxes. Each box gets a scanning code, and people can keep track of where their box ends up. It’s an international mission, so none of them stay in the United States. They also send some to Indian reservations within the United States.”

There are 11 volunteers from Memorial Baptist that are helping out at the drop-off center this year.

Memorial Baptist Church’s pastor, Chris Furl who was also helping with the packing of the trailer said, “Wheatland Bible has been doing it for years, and they wanted to transfer it over to somebody else, so we took it over. We love it. We’re excited and so glad to have Gleny head it up. I did it in North Carolina where their associational office is located and we did like 4,000 shoeboxes there and there were a ton more people there.”

Other churches that are partnering with Memorial Baptist are, Chugwater Valley Church, First Christian Church, Impact Ministries, Wheatland Bible church and Valor Insurance Agency Kiwanis Kids along with many individuals in the community.

For decades, these small boxes, lovingly packed with toys and other items, have been delivered to millions of children around the world. As the world continues to wrestle with a global pandemic, children need joy and hope now more than ever

Memorial Baptist Church has set the following times for dropping off shoeboxes.

Monday, Nov. 14, 9-11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15, 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16, 1-3 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, 11, a.m. – 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, 4 - 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, 10, a.m. – noon Sunday, Nov. 20, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21, 7:30-9:30 a.m.

How to pack a shoebox webpage: https://samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/pack-a-shoe-box/?utm_source=OCC-Press-Release-Volunteer-Drop-Off-Location-Opening&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=OCC-How-to-Pack

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