Group from Calvary Chapel will travel to Mexico next month to deliver gifts



FARMINGTON — More than 1,400 needy kids will have a least a shoe box full of Christmas gifts this year, thanks to local donors.

Farmington’s Calvary Chapel collected more than 1,400 shoe box donations over the past week for Operation Christmas Child, a gift-giving program organized by the international relief organization Samaritan’s Purse.

The local donations were delivered to Durango today, and from there, they will be transported to a processing center in Denver before being shipped abroad to underprivileged children in third-world communities around the globe, according to the Four Corners collection center coordinator, Rick Willard.

“Originally, the idea was to get a shoe box — any old shoe box — and you put different items in it for children around the world,” Willard said. “You can put a toy, a practical item like a knit hat or something, a football or soccer ball, something like that in there for the kids.”

The shoe boxes are filled with personalized gifts by donors, and Samaritan’s Purse suggests including a “wow toy” with hygiene items and school supplies, according to an Operation Christmas Child pamphlet. The gift boxes are designated for boys or girls in three different age groups from 2 years old to 14 years old. The organization also encourages donors to include a personalized note and photo.


Willard said Samaritan’s Purse, a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization, also includes Bibles with the shoebox gifts and offers a 12-week course for recipients to learn about the Bible.

“It’s a mission from Jesus to show your love to others in other nations (and) to everyone. (Operation Christmas Child) shows these kids, unfortunate kids in not-so-predominant communities or countries that can’t afford things, that Jesus loves them,” Willard said.

The majority of the gifts collected in Farmington will be shipped to children outside the U.S., though Willard said the organization has delivered shoe boxes to New Mexico reservations in the past.


A group of volunteers from the Calvary Chapel also travels to Juarez, Mexico, to help distribute gifts from Operation Christmas Child to local children, Willard said. The church works with Carlos Chavez, a pastor who is from Juarez but lived in Santa Fe for a few years, to organize the three-day trip in December.

“They have a big gymnasium, and that thing is just packed full of kids, and there will be all these boxes stacked,” Willard said. “We pass them out to kids, and we get to interact with them and play games with them. It’s pretty fun.”

The Calvary Chapel has acted as a donation center for more than 10 years, Willard said.

Megan Petersen covers business and education for The Daily Times. Reach her at 505-564-4621 or

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