'Operation Christmas Child' up and running

awileman@sierrastar.comOctober 29, 2013 

Every year since 2010 Kathey Harmon, from The Grove Church in Ahwahnee, has helped gather boxes to promote Operation Christmas Child. Again, this year she is asking members of the Mountain Area to join a cause which brings joy and happiness to the hearts of thousands of underprivileged children across the globe.

Operation Christmas Child is a non-profit project of Samaritan's Purse and is the brain child of the organizations president and long-time Christian Evangelistic minister and missionary Franklin Graham. Graham started the project as a way to "spread hope and the word of the gospel."

Operation Christmas Child is celebrating its 20th anniversary of gift-giving and since the start-up in 1993 has helped deliver more than 100 million boxes to needy children around the world.

In order to get involved, members of the community can go to the local Relay Collection Center located at the Oakhurst Evangelical Free Church in Oakhurst. Here members can obtain a box and brochure with instructions on how to pack the box, or go online to samaritanspurse.org, click the Operations Christmas Child link and print out the brochure which includes details on how to pack your box and what items should and could go inside.

Participants are asked to fill a standard size shoe box or small plastic container, make sure to wrap the box and lid separately so the box can be opened without ripping the wrapping. Then determine whether to make a box for a girl or boy from one of three age categories -- 2-4 years, 5-9 years, or 10-14 years old and fill the box with hygiene items, school supplies and age appropriate toys.

Last year Harmon packed different boxes full of a winter hat, shoes, scarfs, dolls, little berets, a comb and brush.

"It very touching cause when you see these kids open gifts, some of which have never received anything in their lives, just the look on their faces is worth every minute and dollar spent," Harmon said.

Most of what goes into the boxes are items taken for granted by many Americans such as toothpaste, toothbrushes and even shoes. But these same items can benefit a child and give them hope for the future.

According to Samaritan Purse International Relief, Operations Christmas Child demonstrates God's love to hurting children in a tangible way by partnering with churches worldwide to deliver gift-filled show boxes and the Good News of Jesus Christ.

If community members choose to participate in the program the cost is $7 per box and payments should be enclosed with the items in each box. If those interested donate their $7 online it will include a tracking number to see where exactly the box was delivered.

Boxes and supplies can be picked up at listed locations or picked up directly from Harmon and can be sent as early as today. Harmon said she is willing and could pick up from those unable to make it to a drop-off point.

Participants are asked not to include used or damaged items; war-related items, food, liquids, medications or vitamins, and breakable items. A full list of non-recommended items is also available online.

The boxes will be packed and sent to Fresno where they will be taken to Boone, N.C and distributed to necessary places in the world. The boxes will be delivered to Fresno on Nov. 17 and Nov. 25, so boxes need to be in by Nov. 23 at the latest.

Following the arrival of the packages to their final destinations, distributors will be supplied with videos showing the children receiving gifts. Harmon said she will have similar videos from pat years available to anyone interested in seeing the outcome of this great experience.

On Nov. 2 Harmon will be outside of Vons grocery store distributing boxes to people who want to help out with the cause. She will also be at Grocery Outlet on Nov. 9.

National Collection Week is Nov. 17-25, and boxes can be dropped off at Oakhurst Evangelical Free Church, 50443 School Road (427) at the following times:

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, Nov. 12-16

8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17

10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 19.

Harmon is also interested in any ideas on how to promote Operation Christmas Child and is willing to host a wrapping party for those interested.

Details: Kathey Harmon (209) 917-0292, Church (559) 683-2254 or online: samaritanspurse.org

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