Operation Christmas child is a charity initiative based in the UK and Ireland which is run by The Samaritan’s Purse every year in the run up to the Christmas. The charity collects shoeboxes which have been filled by supporters of the charity with small gifts suitable for a child and then they are distributed to children across Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe.
What is The Samaritan’s Purse?
The Samaritan’s Purse originally began life as a ministry which aimed to provide assistance to areas of the world affected by emergency using the support of already established mission agencies as well as churches.
The Samaritan’s Purse was launched in the UK by the well-known minister Dr Billy Graham. In 1995, a charity based in Wrexham, UK called ‘Operation Christmas Child’ announced that it was to merge with the Samaritan’s Purse in order to expand the charitable work that they were already doing.
Operation Christmas Child goes National
As a result of the merger, Operation Christmas Child began to filter through the UK and increasingly more people jumped on board to support this worthy cause. Today, the charity is supported by thousands of people throughout the UK and Ireland and the mission’s scale increases with each Christmas that goes by.
Operation Christmas Child asks for donations of shoe boxes which have been filled with Christmas treats that are suitable to be distributed amongst impoverished children throughout the world. The organisation can provide details of where to take shoe boxes once they have been filled. Shoe boxes should be decorated with Christmas wrapping and the lid secured with a rubber band. The majority of shoe boxes donated come from churches but these days, increasingly more schools and community based groups are also organising collections.
Filling a Shoebox
The Samaritan’s Purse can provide a small information pack for anybody wanting to fill and donate a shoebox. The information pack comes complete with a sticker to place on the completed box to indicate what age range the box is suitable for and whether it has been designed for a girl or a boy.
The Samaritan’s purse provides details on its website as well as in the information pack detailing what can and can not be donated. Toiletries are very much welcomed and many people include soap, toothpaste, toothbrush and face cloths.
Although no chocolate can be included due to its short shelf life and it being prone to melting, boiled or hard sweets can be included along with chews and lollipops. Clothing is also welcomed in the form of hats, scarves, gloves, mittens etc.
Toys can be included within the shoebox along with puzzle books and small games but supporters should ensure that battery operated toys are not included and any toys related to war (e.g, army figures, guns etc) should also be avoided. Popular toys to include are balls, marbles, toy cars or dolls.
Donations (usually around £2.50) towards the costs of distributing the shoe boxes can also be placed inside the box inside a small envelope provided by the Samaritan’s Purse. The charity also encourage supporters to include a Christmas card with a simple message about who the present is from to add a personal touch for the child receiving it at Christmas.
A shoebox filled with small presents may seem insignificant at a time of year when present buying turns into a frenzy but for a child in an impoverished country, it might not just be the only Christmas gift they receive this year, it could also be the most special gift they have ever received.