Submitted by Samaritan’s Purse
Despite a global pandemic, millions of shoebox gifts for the Samaritan’s Purse project Operation Christmas Child were collected the week before Thanksgiving following a curbside drop-off model at more than 4,000 locations nationwide.
Creativity, determination and faith inspired many individuals, families, churches and groups to persevere in their efforts to pack shoeboxes amidst unprecedented challenges. Although official collection totals for the Greater Niagara area team and nationwide results are still being tallied, personal stories of exceeded goals and overwhelming success are pouring in from across the country.
“Shoebox packers overcame the challenges of this unprecedented year to generously donate gift-filled shoeboxes for children in need,” said Operation Christmas Child Senior Director Randy Riddle. “Now more than ever, boys and girls around the world need hope. We are excited to deliver millions of shoeboxes to children in Jesus’ name – sharing God’s love and reminding them that they are not alone.”
This year, stories from across the country showcased God’s faithfulness.
In their first networkwide campaign, Tennessee-based network Family Radio inspired listeners to build 411 shoeboxes online through storytelling and digital communication efforts.
The Light FM, based in Asheville, North Carolina, launched a campaign to build 500 shoeboxes online. Listeners sailed past the original goal. Ultimately, they rallied to reach 1,625 children! Promotions Manager Brian Fisher told Samaritan’s Purse, “We are celebrating! Our listeners are awesome, and it is a testament to how great the experience is that you all have provided to virtually pack a shoebox. Thank you all!”
Salvisa Baptist Church in Kentucky was seeing only 60% regular attendance and had to make COVID-19-related modifications to their packing strategy. Still, they managed to surpass their 2019 collection of 550 shoebox gifts – collecting 700 shoebox gifts this year. They also donated $5,000 toward the critical ministry expenses associated with collection, sending and equipping.
At one of Arizona’s oldest churches where just over 100 people worship – Burton Baptist in Linden – hopes to surpass last year’s 1,000 shoebox collection were met with an amazing total of 2,000 shoebox gifts this year. People also generously contributed the $9 per shoebox suggested donation.
First Baptist Blowing Rock, North Carolina, set out to pack 500 shoeboxes in 2020 – a goal lower than its 2019 collection total. Then moved by faith, people increased their goal to 800 and packed 1,107 shoeboxes in the end. A socially distanced prayer service was held to pray for the next steps in the journey of the shoebox and for each child who would receive them.
There’s still a way to participate for those who missed the collection week in November and are looking for a meaningful way to give back this holiday season.
Samaritan’s Purse offers a virtual shoebox packing tool called “Build a Shoebox Online” as a way to give boys and girls a tangible expression of God’s love through a gift-filled shoeboxes packed from your computer or handheld device. Shoeboxes built online often go to children in difficult-to-access countries. In just a few clicks, you can select toys and other fun items to include as well as a letter and photo to delight the heart of a child. Samaritan’s Purse staff and volunteers will pack and send your shoebox gifts for you.
Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, seeks to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world and, together with the local church worldwide, to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 178 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 160 countries and territories.