Organizers have been pounding the pavement visiting past participants while hoping to recruit new ones for the annual Operation Christmas Child shoebox campaign.
An international project of Samaritan’s Purse, OCC is a program that turns to churches, civic organizations, businesses and individuals to fill shoeboxes with gifts to be distributed to children living in impoverished conditions throughout the globe. While most of the gift-filled boxes are distributed to children in Third World countries, some areas of the U.S. receive the boxes as well, especially during times of natural disaster. The boxes are filled with such items as school supplies, hygiene products, clothes, toys and hard candies.
Karen Pike, is spearheading the local effort, for the first time without sidekick Marty Riley who took on the undertaking for many years. Riley has moved out of state.
This year’s international collection week is next week. Those who wish have until Nov. 13 to get and fill a box. Call Karen Pike at (520) 586-3922 for information.
The boxes will be collected at First Baptist Church in Benson, 983 S. Ocotillo Ave., on Nov. 14, where volunteers will pack them into cartons for transfer to First Christian Church in Sierra Vista, the regional collection point for all of Southeastern Arizona. Cartons from all over Cochise County as well as surrounding areas will be delivered to Sierra Vista where they will be loaded onto semi trucks and transported to a processing center in Orange, County, California. The California location is one of eight processing centers across the U.S. From there, the boxes are headed to different countries for distribution.
Along with the donated gift items, the children receive a small booklet about Jesus written in that child’s language.
“This shoebox project has become one of the most successful outreach campaigns in history, and I believe it’s because of that message,” Pike has said.