Local drop-off site established for Operation Christmas Child boxes

Area residents and groups interested in preparing gift boxes for needy children around the world will be able to do it more conveniently this year.

Parkview Mennonite Breth?ren Church in Hillsboro has established a drop-off site for gift-filled shoeboxes contributed through a program called Operation Christmas Child.

The program, which has delivered more than 16 million gift boxes to needy children in 130 countries since 1993, is sponsored by Samaritan?s Purse headed by Franklin Graham.

Managing the local relay center are Susan Paine and Andrea Schumacher from Parkview.

?They try to have a relay center so people don?t have to drive long distances to drop off boxes,? said Paine, who started a relay center when she lived in Concordia before moving to Hillsboro.

?This will be the first year in Hillsboro, and I hope to increase that in the future. It?s not a one-time thing.?

Paine said while Operation Christmas Child is already active in a couple of local churches, participation is open to anyone.

?It?s not just a church pro?ject,? she said. ?We would like to have 4-H groups, Scouts groups, and I know the cross-country team at Tabor (College) is contributing this year. Any of those kinds of groups can do it. So it?s really a community thing.?

The dropoff schedule began Monday, Nov. 17. The hours for the rest of the week are as follows: from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18; from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 19; from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 20 and 21; from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 22; from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 23; and from noon to 1 p.m. Monday, Nov. 24.

?(Operation Christmas Child) would like to see us collect 500 boxes,? Paine said. ?They kind of assess your community and decided how many should come in based on its size.?

The shoeboxes can be filled with toys, school items, hygiene items and things such as hard candy and lollipops, mints, gum, T-shirts, socks, ball caps, sunglasses, hair clips, toy jewelry, watches and flashlights (with extra batteries).

More information about preparing a shoebox is available on the Web at www.samaritanspurse.org or by calling Paine at her home: 620-947-3497.

Each shoebox requires a $7 check to help cover project costs. Paine said a careful shopper can probably fill a box for between $15 and $20, including the check.

?It?s not an expensive thing,? she said, ?but it means a lot to people who have essentially nothing.?

Paine also said she has 100 pre-decorated boxes to distribute that can be used for the project.

?I love Operation Christmas Child because it?s so do-able,? she said. ?It?s basically done by children for children?because it really can be done by really young kids.

?I love to see grandmas take their grandkids and make a shoebox with them.

?Actually, I do one for each of my grandchildren that I don?t have yet.?

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