LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -Most of us, in this country, would have a hard time remembering the first gift we ever received. But some people will receive a gift for the first time ever, due to Operation Christmas Child. It’s the world's largest project of its kind, sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse. People of all denominations fill shoe boxes with toys and other items that may be a first for the child who opens it for Christmas. James and Shirley Groves, who attend Westlake Church of God, coordinate collection in this area.
"Pack it with some ordinary things, school supplies and hygiene items and coloring books and we always like to have a ‘wow toy’ in there, something that would really excite a child who would open it and get it. We want the children to know that God loves them and that's the purpose of the box," said James.
One church member carved 1200 little cars that will find their way overseas and into the hands of children there.
"He made everyone one of these himself, cut it out, painted it, put the wheels on it and put it all together with prayers for the child that's going to receive them," explained Groves.
Shirley has visited Cameroon and seen the reaction of children who receive the boxes...
"It's amazing. I can't describe the feeling. And the kids are so excited, they're so grateful, they're so joyful, a lot of times they don't know how to handle it. You know, they've never received anything. It's like, 'do I have to give this back?'” said Shirley.
But it’s more than material things.
"the gift that they receive is hearing about Jesus Christ and so that's the whole thing for me, is for them to be able to hear the good news of great joy."
National collection week is November 18th through 25th and when it's over they hope southwest Louisiana will have contributed more than 30,000 shoebox gifts.
Six Operation Christmas Child drop off locations will be open for Southwest Louisiana beginning November 18. Nationally, there are approximately 5,000 similar locations collecting gift-filled shoeboxes for children living in poverty overseas through the Samaritan’s Purse project.
During National Collection Week, residents in Southwest Louisiana will transform empty shoeboxes into gifts filled with school supplies, hygiene items, notes of encouragement and fun toys to be delivered to children in need around the world. This year, residents in Southwest Louisiana hope to contribute more than 30,000 shoebox gifts toward the 2019 global goal of reaching 11 million children with tangle expressions of God’s love.
Many donors, churches, and community groups throughout the area will begin collecting monetary donations and filled shoe boxes in early November. These boxes are then taken to one of the drop off sites located at:
(collection times by site are available on the web at: https://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/drop-off-locations/)
The Dwelling Place, 1800 E. College St., Lake Charles
Maplewood First Baptist Church, 4501 Maplewood Dr., Sulphur
First Baptist Church, 201 South Pine St., DeQuincy
Unity Baptist Church, 19373 Lake Charles Hwy., DeRidder
The Grand Church, 205 1st Ave., Kinder
First Baptist Church, 1001 Cary Ave., Jennings
Drop-off sites receive the boxes November 18 through November 25 and bring them to collection centers where they are loaded on 18-wheelers and brought to a processing center. At the processing center, volunteers get the boxes ready to head to their final destinations around the world. With the help of thousands of volunteers, the cost to process and ship each box and place it into the hands of a child is only $9. By giving the suggested donation of $9 per shoebox gift on-line, participants can follow their box to discover where in the world it will be delivered.
Anyone who would like to participate, but is unable to physically provide a box, can build a box online at www.samaritanspurse.org/occ and can even upload a photo and encouraging note.
Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 168 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 100 countries. Since 2009, more than 18.9 million children who received a shoebox gift have gone on to participate in The Greatest Journey discipleship program, which teaches children what it means to follow Jesus and share their faith with friends and family.
FOR ADDITIONAL LOCAL INFORMATION CONTACT THE SWLA TEAM AT 337-405-9022 or firstname.lastname@example.org