This year we are joining LaCrosse and Hanna United Methodist Churches in a joint mission project called Operation Christmas Child. In September, two people from Hanna UMC came to share this project with us, but in case you missed it or wanted more information, I wanted to make sure we are all on the same page. Even though the date of the mission project is not until November, we need to be thinking about it and working on it this month.
Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse which is an international relief organization. For this project Samaritan’s church partners with churches and other local organizations that work with children in areas of the world impacted by poverty, war, famine, natural disaster or disease. These organizations can then use these shoeboxes as a way to reach out to these communities with the good news of Jesus as they use the shoeboxes to bless the children who receive them. All told, Samaritan’s Purse has partners in 170 different countries that they work with.
The Shoeboxes are packed based on age category (2-4; 5-9; 10-14) and packed for either a boy or a girl. There is a lot that can go into a shoebox. Some possible items are: Clothing items such as flip-flops, hats, socks, sunglasses, or gloves; Personal care items that are non-perishable such as a brush, washcloth, and toothbrush (but not toothpaste); School supplies and craft items such as pencils, crayons, pencil cases, stickers, and glue sticks. Of course, since these go to children, toys are also good options. Soccer balls (with pump), dolls, musical instruments, stuffed animals, and other small toys or figures are all popular options.
On November 12th at 2:00 P.M. we are invited to Hanna UMC for a packing party. At this time all of the donations for the shoeboxes from the churches will be brought together and packed up. The goal is that by all together combining our resources and donations, we can pack 200 or more shoeboxes to bless children around the world.
So, there are two specific ways that you can be involved in this project. First, you can buy or even make items to include in the boxes. I included some suggestions, but anything that is non-perishable and not violent that can fit in a shoebox can be included. You can bring any donations to the church in advance or you can bring them with you on November 12th. The packing party on that day is the second way that you can be involved. It will take some effort to pack 200 boxes and the more people who do it, the easier it will be for everyone.
I am excited that we get to put the united in United Methodist this year as we all join together to be a blessing to children all over the world. I do hope you are able to join in and be part of this combined mission project.