Shoebox ministry reached 10.4M last year

Published 12:58 am Wednesday, October 14, 2015

National collection week is Nov. 16-23

Last year, volunteers in the Wiregrass area filled 24,829 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, a division of the international relief ministry Samaritan’s Purse.

Cindy Harris, a member of Ino Baptist Church who coordinates that effort each year, told Andalusia Rotarians Tuesday that the boxes are designed to not only provide basic supplies for impoverished children around the world, but to also introduce them to something eternal.


The organization asks people to fill a shoe box with a “wow” toy such as a doll, a soccer ball with a pump, or a stuffed animal, as well as hygiene items, hard candy, and school supplies.

“We also ask for a $7 donation with each box,” Harris said.

The boxes are taken to one of 12 collection points in the nation – for this area, Atlanta – where they are inspected to make sure there are no taboo items included, sealed, and packaged in crates for shipping.

The donation covers shipping, as well as Christian literature used when the boxes are distributed. The Greatest Journey, is the Samaritan’s Purse discipleship program that is offered to many children who receive Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts..

In some places, she said, the recipients are in villages so remote that volunteers carry the boxes in on their heads.

The ministry reached 10.4 million worldwide last year, she said.

“Every box comes with the greatest gift – the possibility for eternal salvation,” Harris said.

National collection week is Nov. 16-23. No chocolate, breakables, or food (except hard candy) should be included. Organizers also ask that none of the items look military, or bear American flags.

“Many of our recipients live in war-torn countries,” she said.

In Covington County, Hopewell Baptist Church, 6592 Brooklyn Road in Andalusia, and Westview Baptist, 1404 N. Main St. in Opp, are drop-off points for the ministry.

Franklin Graham is CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, which is also involved in other ministries. Harris said it is Graham’s goal is to have “boots on the ground before CNN gets there.”