Operation Christmas Child Seeking Shoe Boxes of Gifts for International Children

By Benjamin Cox on November 3, 2023 at 2:41pm

More than 4,500 drop off locations to collect shoe boxes full of Christmas gifts for children overseas will open in just a few weeks.

The 30th annual Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child will open its National Collection Week in the area to run from November 13th – 20th.

Karla DeVries of Pittsfield says that efforts to fill shoe boxes have already begun throughout West Central Illinois and there are several sites to drop off a shoe box of gifts nearby: “We are actually packing shoe boxes in churches and community groups, as we speak. For our local drop offs, there is a location in Ashland at New Beginnings Christian Fellowship, in Jacksonville at Calvary Baptist Church, in White Hall at the First Christian Church, in Pittsfield at the Pittsfield Church of the Nazarene. Also, we are in Rushville and Eldred and throughout Adams and Hancock counties. There is more than 4,000 drop-off locations throughout the country. Usually you can find one within a half hour of where you live.”

DeVries says anyone can fill a shoe box to send to the approximately 11 million children this holiday season that Operation Christmas Child looks to reach. DeVries says that Samaritan’s Purse only asks that you provide $10 with your shoe box of gifts to offset the costs of international shipping.

DeVries says there are a number of great items that people can pack to make a difference in a child’s life overseas: “Inside that shoe box you can put school supplies, personal items like soap, a wash cloth, no tooth paste, a tooth brush, hair items like combs and girls hair ties, and then, also a ‘Wow’ item. Something that is going to woo this child and get them very excited. My personal favorite is a soccer ball with an air pump. I say that because it is not only a gift for a child but for an entire village. That village will continue to use that soccer ball in interacting and building relationships. I love sending soccer balls, but there are a host of other items that could be a ‘Wow’ item, even as personal as a special blanket or a stuffed animal.”

DeVries says that her small Mothers of Preschoolers group got involved with Operation Christmas Child 23 years ago at the Pittsfield Nazarene Church. She says they started with just 13 boxes that year. She says that the church has become a central drop off location, and just two years ago, processed 17,000 shoe boxes for shipment.

For more information, visit samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child.