Children open presents received through Operation Christmas Child, a program of Samaritan’s Purse.
Children open presents received through Operation Christmas Child, a program of Samaritan's Purse. (Courtesy of Samaritan's Purse)

FARMINGTON — As Christmas approaches, Calvary Chapel is reminding people that the holiday is about giving.

Starting Monday, the Farmington church will collect boxes as part of Operation Christmas Child's national collection week. The week, which kicks off Monday, will continue through Nov. 25.

Operation Christmas Child delivers shoeboxes filled with gifts to needy children worldwide. A program of Samaritan's Purse, the project has delivered more than 100 million boxes to children in more than 100 countries since its start in 1993, according to the organization's website.

Rick Willard, a member of Calvary Chapel, has been in charge of Operation Christmas Child's Farmington relay center for six years. He said the drive shows children in Third World countries that people and God care about them.

The boxes are delivered to churches in other countries, and pastors pass out the boxes to the whole community. Willard said this also helps the churches connect with the communities.

Willard suggested that people can donate items such as writing tablets, pens, colored pencils, toothpaste, soap, washcloths and stuffed toys. He warned not to include sharp objects or Army toys because some of the countries the boxes are going to are involved in violent wars. Sending those kinds of toys, he said, distracts from the program's message of peace.

There are various ways people can donate. People can drop off boxes at Calvary Chapel throughout the week, or they can donate online.

There is a $7 suggested donation to pay for shipping and handling. If people donate money online, they can print out a label to place on the box. The label will be scanned when crossing the border, and the sender will receive an email with information about the package's destination country.

Boxes can also be built online.

"I kind of like doing it myself," Willard said. "It's a little more personal."

By personally building a box, Willard said people can insert letters and pictures of their family.

Volunteers with Operation Christmas Child read to children.
Volunteers with Operation Christmas Child read to children. (Courtesy of Samaritan's Purse)

Operation Christmas Child also helps people realize how fortunate they are to live in the United States.

"In our country, we get a little spoiled," Willard said.

He said in some of the poor countries, children are excited just to get something like a toothbrush.

Calvary Chapel will also send a group of its members to Mexico in January to deliver boxes. The group has been going to Mexico for a couple of years.

"They always come back with big smiles on their faces," Willard said.

Willard said he likes to participate in Operation Christmas Child because "you're actually taking part and making a difference in a child's life."

He said the program also helps spread the message of God's love.

"Every box that goes into another country has the Gospel of Jesus Christ in it," he said.

IF YOU GO

What: Operation Christmas Child

When: Donations can be dropped off from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday; noon to 4 p.m. Sunday and 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday Nov. 25

Where: Calvary Chapel, 6925 E. Main St. in Farmington

More info: 1-800-567-8580 or samaritanspurse.org

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.