The annual collection of the familiar red and green shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child will begin Monday in Hillsboro and Greenfield. at the Hillsboro First United Methodist Church on East Walnut Street.
The collection location in Hillsboro will be the First United Methodist Church at 133 E. Walnut St. Collection times are:
• Monday, Nov. 16 — 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• Tuesday, Nov. 17 — 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Wednesday, Nov. 18 — 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• Thursday, Nov. 19 — 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Friday, Nov. 20 — 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Saturday, Nov. 21 — 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Sunday, Nov. 22 — 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Monday, Nov. 23 — 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The collection location in Greenfield will be the First Baptist Church at 250 Lafayette St. Collection times are:
• Monday, Nov. 16 — 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
• Tuesday, N0v. 17 — 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
• Wednesday, Nov. 18 — 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
• Thursday, Nov. 19 — 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
• Friday, Nov. 20 — 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
• Saturday, Nov. 21 — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• Sunday, Nov. 22 — Noon to 3 p.m.
• Monday, Nov. 23 — 9 a.m. to noon
According to a news release from Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse, the organization that oversees Operations Christmas Child, it wants boys and girls around the world to know that God loves them, and that He hasn’t forgotten them at this time of the year despite the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Local church relations spokesperson Lela McWhorter told The Times-Gazette that this year’s collection process will be a bit different than those of previous years due to the current health crisis.
“We have been asked to do ‘curbside pick-up only’ for the shoeboxes,” she said. “When you come to the church, follow the signs for curbside drop off. A volunteer wearing a facemask will direct you to an outside area when they’ll unload your shoeboxes.”
All volunteers will be wearing a mask and plastic gloves, will have adequate supplies of anti-bacterial hand sanitizer as well, and will have a touchless way to leave contact information and the number of shoeboxes being dropped off.
What goes into the shoebox is critical for not only its missionary intent, but also for the protection of the child who receives it.
“Do not include candy, toothpaste, used or damaged items, or anything that would be considered war-related,” McWhorter said. “Also don’t include seeds, food, liquids or lotions, no medications or vitamins, anything breakable or in an aerosol can, and whatever you do, don’t hide coins or any money inside the box.”
McWhorter said there is one item for the children included with the shoebox that most people had never heard of and she considers to be one of the most important items.
“On top of that shoebox is an age-appropriate booklet that shares the gospel of Jesus Christ,” she said. “It’s written in their own language and it’s called ‘The Greatest Gift of All.’”
She said what goes into the shoebox could include:
• A “wow” item such as a deflated soccer ball with a small pump, a doll, shoes or flip-flops and, as she put it, “something that a child can love and cuddle with,” such as a stuffed animal.
• Small toys like toy cars, jump ropes, yo-yos, small musical instruments and toys that light up and make noise, with extra batteries.
• Non-liquid hygiene items including toothbrushes, bar soap, washcloths and combs. She suggested including a small plastic cup with a lid since other things can be placed inside it.
• School supplies such as pens, pencils, sharpeners, crayons, markers, notebooks, paper, coloring and picture books, and solar powered calculators.
• Personal accessories like socks, clothing items or a small towel.
• Prayer, which McWhorter said is the most important thing that goes into and over the shoebox. She said to pray for the child who will receive the box, and to include a personal note and a picture to show them who sent it.
She added that by affixing a “Follow Your Box” label to the shoebox, people could also track their package to its final destination by scanning the label with their smartphone.
Operation Christmas Child works directly with international volunteer leadership teams in more than 100 countries.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.