Operation Christmas Child is a worthy organization

Commentary by Emma Gadbery
Times-News correspondent

   A boy opens a box in his native home of Africa and is brought to tears because of the pair of mittens he finds inside. He isn’t disappointed because it’s 90 degrees outside and has no use for them. He’s glad to finally have something to protect his hands while he is doing his chore — taking out the hot coals from the fire.
This is one of the many touching stories from the amazing work done by Samaritan’s Purse through Operation Christmas Child. This is a Christ-based operation run by volunteers with the mission to bring cheer to a child in a third world country by giving a Christmas present, packed by families and individuals all across America. Many children that live in foreign countries live in poverty and starvation and don’t have as much as do children in the United States.
That’s why people of all ages and walks of life pack a shoebox with things for a child in need. From a tooth brush and tooth paste, a bar of soap, or a pair of shoes to a stuffed animal, a coloring book, or a little bible, these children love everything they receive in the Christmas present.
   In service for 20 years, Operation Christmas Child started from shipping a few boxes overseas to packing 45,000 to 50,000 shoeboxes a day. Hundreds of volunteers work in shifts from morning to night, performing various jobs in order to get as many boxes packed and shipped as possible.
When a shipment of boxes arrives, the workers and volunteers open the boxes and first check for money or checks. Some of these are donations for the ministry and some are meant for the child. Money is one of the few items not allowed to be shipped, because it could be dangerous to the child and his/her family.
Second, a person goes through the items packed into the box, making sure they are safe for the child.  Things that are taken out of the boxes are chocolates, liquids, Pokémon or Harry Potter items, and foods. If a package is close to empty, the volunteer puts more things like Silly Bands, a stuffed animal or a coloring book or storybook.
Next, the box is taped shut. Each box is labeled with a tag that says if the present is for a boy or girl, and what age group the package is for. If the box has a barcode, this means that the family who packed the box wants to know what country it ended up in. The next step is to scan the barcode then scan the appropriate box and pack the individual boxes into the cartons. Those are then put onto large trucks where they are driven to port cities and shipped overseas.
Much work and thought has been put into this program. Operation Christmas Child brings joy and shines the light of Jesus Christ to millions of children in need.  Volunteers are needed year round at the Boone warehouse and office.
To become part of this wonderful organization, you can go online to www.samaritanspurse.org and click on the “Get Involved” tab or call (828) 262-1980. It is a great way to use your time and talent while giving to others.

 Emma Gadbery is a sophomore home-schooler and a Teens & Twenties writer.

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