Thanks to the generous efforts of Columbia residents, thousands of suffering children worldwide have entered the new year with new hope. Columbia residents joined Operation Christmas Child, a project of international Christian relief and evangelism organization Samaritan's Purse, to pack 6,410 shoe boxes with simple items most people take for granted, including toothpaste, toys and school supplies. The shoe boxes are now being hand-delivered to hurting children around the world using whatever means necessary — sea containers, helicopters, boats, camels ... even dog sleds!
In spite of the unstable economic climate, people gave generously to the world's largest Christmas project as more than 8 million shoe box gifts were collected from caring families, schools, churches and community groups.
On behalf of our community, I would like to thank the local collection sites, volunteers and everyone who packed an Operation Christmas Child shoe box gift. These simple gift-filled shoe boxes communicate to hurting children that they are loved and not forgotten.
Though the Columbia drop-off locations are closed until November 2011, there is still time to pack a shoe box. Gifts are received year-round at Samaritan's Purse, 801 Bamboo Road, Boone, N.C., 28607. To get involved, go online to samaritanspurse.org or call 817-595-2230.
Thanks again to everyone who participated in this project. The joy of Christmas goes far when it is packed in a shoe box gift!
Beth Armes is the lower Midwest regional director for Operation Christmas Child.