Opinion

Johnston: Operation Christmas Child drop-off locations opening soon

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In my life, like most of you, I’ve had many roles. I’ve been a mom, a wife, and an employee for most of my life. I could never seem to keep a plant alive but managed to raise three boys to manhood. Now, I have another role, as an area coordinator for Operation Christmas Child for the West Valley.

For me, this is a year-round volunteer role that fills so many of my buckets.

We are an organization that partners with local churches and community groups to gather toys, school supplies and hygiene items to pack into shoebox gifts. Our mission is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world. Since 1993, an astounding 188 million children in more than 160 countries have received an Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift.

Anyone can participate, and we encourage you to pack a shoebox today! The biggest week of the year, designated as National Collection Week, is Nov. 15-22, and drop-off locations across the state are ready to accept your shoeboxes.

If you are reading this after National Collection Week or have little time to shop, no problem! You can participate in our Build A Shoebox Online program. First, choose to build a shoebox for a girl or boy, then specify the preferred age, and select the items you want to include. You can even upload a photo and letter. Involve the children in your life in this fun activity.

They will enjoy choosing special items for the shoebox gift, and it is an opportunity for them to learn the value of giving to someone in need.

The journey of a shoebox gift is amazing. Once packed by members of the community, they are collected at drop-off locations across Arizona and processed at regional centers throughout the U.S. An international trip and clearance through customs follows.

A trained network of ministry partners receives the shoeboxes locally.

Next, the gifts are transported to an outreach event and delivered into the hands of children. Operation Christmas Child partners around the world demonstrate great creativity in transporting the shoebox gifts. They are as passionate and dedicated as their counterparts in the U.S., fulfilling their role sharing God’s love and the good news of Jesus through the shoebox gifts.

Across the U.S. and here locally, Operation Christmas Child teams are active throughout the year and care about developing relationships with our communities.

If you are interested in finding out more about volunteering with Operation Christmas Child, please complete an interest form.

Editor’s note: Nancy Johnston is area coordinator, West Valley, for Operation Christmas Child. Learn more at samaritanspurse.org/occ.

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