LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Our area has been through a lot this year, but the pandemic and hurricanes haven’t stopped Southwest Louisiana from wanting to give this holiday season.
For many around the world without presents under the tree, Operation Christmas Child makes a big impact.
Operation Christmas Child is a worldwide effort created by Samaritan’s Purse in 1993. Since then, 178 million children in more than 150 countries have received one of these shoeboxes.
The organization is currently set up in Southwest Louisiana collecting gifts to distribute overseas.
James Groves is the SWLA Regional Area Coordinator for Operation Christmas Child.
“Children need to know that God loves them, and these shoe boxes become tangible expressions of God’s love to children in some pretty devastated areas,” Groves said. "Of course, we have seen a lot of devastation in our area, and we can appreciate that a little bit more, but many of these areas that Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes go into suffer this kind of devastation almost continually.”
On the first collection day, the Southwest Louisiana drop off site received close to 2,000 filled shoe boxes.
"It’s been busy this morning. A lot of organizations and churches that do it as a group have brought in boxes this morning. We have almost half a truckload now. Our goal is 28,000 shoe boxes this year.”
There’s also an option to fill a shoe box virtually.
"There’s an opportunity that we’ve really pushed out this year called build a box online. You can actually select the things you want to go in the box. You can write a note to the child. You can attach a picture with your box.”
Samaritan’s purse doesn’t just help those in need overseas. They’ve brought disaster aid right here to Southwest Louisiana.
"There’s a disaster unit here in Lake Charles. There’s one in Jennings. There’s one in DeRidder, and there’s one in DeQuincy.”
Groves says he volunteers because he is passionate about this project.
"We want to tell kids that there’s someone out there that cares for them, someone that loves them, and that God loves them and that he has a plan for their life.”
If you are wanting to donate a shoe box to Operation Christmas Child, you can find the information on Samaritan’s website or call (337) 405-9022.