Operation Christmas Child is a program that is near and dear to our hearts. Sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Christmas Child's mission is to provide local partners around the world with shoeboxes filled with small toys, hygiene items, and school supplies as a means of reaching out to children in need. It’s a wonderful way to reach out to their communities with the Good News of Jesus Christ!
Samaritan’s Purse has collected shoebox gifts since 1993 and since then more than 178 million children in more than 150 countries have received an Operation Christmas Child shoebox. The gifts deliver great joy to children around the globe who may have never received a gift in their lives! The shoebox is a vessel in which the children experience a tangible expression of God’s love.
Unclaimed Baggage has worked as a Drop-Off Center for Operation Christmas Child in partnership with Samaritan’s Purse for 20 years. Each year, we proudly set up an Operation Christmas Child display for each guest to see as they enter the front door.
Year after year, church groups, clubs, and individuals from the community participate in Operation Christmas Child with us. It is a blessing to know that we are helping to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).
We’re delighted to share a story from one of our dedicated participants, Nancy Guess.
Meet Nancy Guess
Each year, Nancy comes to Unclaimed Baggage to pick up as many empty shoeboxes as she can fit in her car. Sometimes, that’s 100 boxes or more! She returns them filled with gifts she purchases herself: Beanie Babies, Barbie dolls, coloring books, crayons, socks, hygiene products, and clothing. She works diligently to find items year-round and seems to find all the best bargains in bulk.
Nancy has been putting boxes together for about 20 years. She pays forward the childhood memory of receiving her own box from her aunt--an experience that is near to her heart to this day.
“It’s personal to me to see how much I can get in a box,” Nancy says. “Growing up, we were extremely poor. We had no running water, plumbing, heat, or air. We got our water from a well.
“One time, my Aunt brought me a shoebox filled with a doll, underwear, and things like that. She did not have to do it, but she did. I will never forget it.”
Because many of the children who receive shoeboxes live in developing countries, they don’t have access to the same resources many families in the U.S. do.
“I think to myself, I live in America. If [getting a shoebox] meant that much to me, what would it mean to these kids? I want to help as many children as I can have that experience, and these kids have far less,” she says.
After so many years packing shoeboxes, Nancy has gotten the process down to a fine art--even down to the price per box.
“I thank the Lord that he guides me to the bargains. I can fill a box with an outfit and all the necessity items in a shoebox for around $4 a piece,” she says.
“If I get to heaven and I meet any of these kids, and they tell me, ‘This is the only gift I ever received, and you’re the one that packed it for me,’ that’s why I fill these shoeboxes.“
How You Can Help
Anyone can participate and donate any number of gift-filled shoeboxes. Every single one makes a difference!
A single shoebox can impact not only the child recipient, but their entire family. Any shoebox will do, but you can pick up pre-printed boxes here at Unclaimed Baggage throughout November.
Be sure to return the full shoeboxes during National Collection Week, the 3rd week in November each year. This year’s dates are November 16-23rd.
To set up a pickup or drop-off please contact Alana Griffith or David Maples at 256-259-1525.
For more information please visit Samaritan’s Purse.
Don’t want to leave the house? You can also Build a Shoebox online here