Shoebox program starts

Published 9:32 pm Monday, November 4, 2013

Diners at Suffolk’s Chick-fil-A restaurants will find an extra opportunity offered today during the lunch and dinner rush.

Volunteers will be at both restaurants distributing empty shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, a Samaritan’s Purse ministry that collects shoeboxes filled with school supplies, hygiene products, toys and other items and distributes them to children in poverty-stricken areas of the world.

Volunteers will return to the restaurants Nov. 12, to collect the filled shoeboxes.

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“It’s just a great outreach to an enormous amount of children throughout the world,” said Ashley Wilkes, a media associate in the Mid-Atlantic office of Operation Christmas Child. “They know they’re loved and not forgotten, no matter their dire circumstances.”

The Mid-Atlantic region has set a goal of collecting a million shoeboxes, Wilkes said. Last year, the region totaled about 700,000 to add to the worldwide total of more than 100 million since the program began in 1993.

Folks preparing shoeboxes do not have to use the ones handed out at Chick-fil-A; any shoebox or similarly sized cardboard or plastic box will do.

Gift-givers pack the box for a boy or a girl of a certain age range after choosing it beforehand. Gift suggestions include small toys, school supplies, hygiene items, T-shirts, socks, hair clips, hardy candy or gum and other items. People should not include used or damaged items, war-related items, chocolate or food, liquids or lotions, breakable items, aerosol cans, out-of-date candy and medications or vitamins.

A suggested donation of $7 per box is requested, which can be done through a check in the shoebox or an online donation. Those who give online can provide their email address and later find out what country received the shoebox.

For a $30 donation, time-strapped people can also build a shoebox online at www.operationchristmaschild.org.

The volunteers will be at both of Suffolk’s Chick-fil-A restaurants today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 5 to 7 p.m.

After the Chick-fil-A pickup date of Nov. 12, boxes can be dropped off at several area drop-off centers during National Collection Week, Nov. 18-25.

Collection sites and times include the following:

Suffolk Christian Church, 216 N. Main St.

  • Nov. 18-19: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Nov. 20: 4 to 7 p.m.
  • Nov. 22-24: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Nov. 25: 9 to 11 a.m.

Nansemond River Baptist Church, 2896 Bridge Road

  • Nov. 18: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Nov. 19: 1 to 6 p.m.
  • Nov. 20: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Nov. 21: 1 to 6 p.m.
  • Nov. 22: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Nov. 23: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Nov. 24: 2 to 4 p.m.
  • Nov. 25: 9 a.m. to noon

South Quay Baptist Church, 9617 S. Quay Road

  • Nov. 18-20: 9 a.m. to noon
  • Nov. 21: 4 to 7 p.m.
  • Nov. 22-24: 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Nov. 25: 9 to 10 a.m.