Operation Christmas Child seeks to spread cheer across the globe

John R. Moses
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON – It’s that time. The leaves are turning, pumpkin spice is creeping into everything and church collection sites are getting ready to create shoeboxes stuffed with gifts for kids and also accept donations to Operation Christmas Child.

The non-profit organization Samaritan’s Purse on Monday announced two San Juan County collection sites, one in Farmington and the other in Aztec. The annual event collects shoeboxes that are filled with various gifts for kids and distributed around the world.

“Operation Christmas Child has been collecting and delivering shoebox gifts—filled with school supplies, hygiene items and fun toys—to children worldwide since 1993,” Operation Christmas Child Media Relations Manager Lizette Miller said. “Anyone can pack a shoebox! In 2022, Operation Christmas Child hopes to collect enough shoeboxes to reach another 11 million children.”

Two local churches are among several in the Four Corners region participating in the gift drive.

Sarah Shockley of First Baptist Church Aztec said this is the 10th year the church has participated in the project, originally organized by Shockley and her mother and now chaired by Shockley.

Last year the church donated 243 boxes.

“This year the goal is 300,” Shockley said.

Church members, children and youth groups will gather during a packing party early in November to compile the church-made boxes in Aztec.

Volunteers at two local churches will staff the National Collection Week events, which happen between Nov. 14 and Nov. 21.

After all the boxes donated by individuals or other church congregations are collected they are taken to a church in Durango and then moved on through the Samaritan’s Purse distribution network.

In Farmington the other collection site will be Pinon Hills Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Boys in the Caucasus nation of Georgia were happy to receive shoebox gifts and The Greatest Gift Gospel booklets provided by the organization Samaritan's Purse in this undated photo.

Many join together in worldwide effort

“More than 4,500 locations will open to collect Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts for the Samaritan’s Purse project,” the Samaritan's Purse organization’s Oct. 17 news release stated.

Operation Christmas Child’s 2022 goal is to “collect enough shoeboxes to reach another 11 million children,” the news release said.

The organization stated that during this time of continued global unrest, children need joy and hope now more than ever.”

Operation Christmas Child expects to receive its 200-millionth shoebox during this year’s drive, the organization said.

“Now more than ever, children around the world need to know that God loves them and there is hope,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse.

To find drop off sites and times click here.

Here are the local drop off sites and times provided by Samaritan’s Purse:

First Baptist Church Aztec700 Navajo Avenue Aztec, NM 87410-2296Mon, Nov. 14: 9 a.m.– 11 a.m.Tue, Nov. 15: 9 a.m.– 11 a.m.Wed, Nov. 16: 9 a.m.– 11 a.m.Thu, Nov. 17: 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.Fri, Nov. 18: 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.Sat, Nov. 19: 9 a.m.– 11 a.m.Sun, Nov. 20: 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.Mon, Nov. 21: 6 a.m. – 8 a.m.

Pinon Hills Seventh Day Adventist Church5001 Foothills Drive Farmington, NM 87402-7304Mon, Nov. 14: 9 a.m.– 11 a.m.Tue, Nov. 15: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.Wed, Nov. 16: 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.Thu, Nov. 17: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.Fri, Nov. 18: 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.Sat, Nov. 19: 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.Sun, Nov. 20: 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.Mon, Nov. 21: 9 a.m.– 11 a.m.

The organization also has an online option for creating a box at https://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/buildonline/

For more information or instructions on how to build your own box go to https://samaritanspurse.org/.

Samaritan’s Purse describes itself as "an international Christian relief and evangelism organization working in more than 100 countries to provide aid to victims of war, disease, disaster, poverty, famine and persecution."