Operation Christmas Child, the nationwide Samaritain’s Purse program that collects holiday packages for underprivileged kids overseas, will be collecting filled shoeboxes Nov. 12-19 at the Hillsboro First United Methodist Church at 133 E. Walnut St.
The church will be the central dropoff location for Adams, Brown, Clinton, Fayette and Highland counties.
Church relations representative Lela McWhorter told The Times-Gazette that Operation Christmas Child, now in its 25th year, is the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind, using gift-filled shoeboxes to demonstrate God’s love to children in need around the world.
“It breaks my heart when I read the letters that come in,” she said. “One of them was from a child that lived in an orphanage with three floors, and there was one toothbrush per floor.”
According to an OCC news release, toothpaste and candy can no longer be packed in the shoeboxes due to customs regulations.
The organization also recommends that the following items not be included in the gift box; chewing gum; used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives or military figures; chocolate or food items; seeds, fruit rolls or other fruit snacks; powdered or liquid drink mixes; liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers; and aerosol cans.
“We had one little girl who was tickled to death with the fact that she got a towel,” she said. “Only it wasn’t a towel, but a small washcloth. Or the teacher that wrote and thanked us for a pencil — one pencil, and she said she broke it into as many pieces as she could so the children in her class would have something to write with.”
McWhorter said that OCC’s research shows that the items packed into one shoebox, such as a small stuffed animal, flip-flops, pencils and crayons or a toothbrush, not only benefit the child, but when taken to a family will touch usually seven other people.
She said that everyone can do something, no matter how much money they have, where they live or how old they are.
She shared the story of a local woman, Ruth Meranda of Hillsboro, who at 96 years old and confined to a wheelchair, wraps more than 1,000 boxes for shipment during the annual collection week.
“We have the capability to help so many people and touch so many lives through such a small box,” she said. “Every church and every person is invited to pack boxes and bring them to Hillsboro First Methodist Church starting Monday morning.”
People can bring all their filled shoeboxes to the church at the following times:
● Monday Nov. 12 — 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
● Tuesday Nov. 13 — 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
● Wednesday Nov. 14 — 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
● Thursday Nov. 15 — 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
● Friday Nov. 16 — 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
● Saturday Nov. 17 — 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
● Sunday Nov. 18 — Noon to 4 p.m.
● Monday Nov. 19 — 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571