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Shoebox collections at Suffolk churches

Suffolk residents will once again be able to donate Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes at three local churches this year. These churches will serve as collection centers during National Collection Week Nov. 13-20.

The ministry of Samaritan’s Purse collected more than nine million gift-filled shoeboxes in 2016 from across the country for needy children in the United States and around the world, and 5,853 were collected in Western Tidewater, according to statistics provided by Mesfin Abera, the Mid-Atlantic director for Operation Christmas Child in Maryland.

People who send shoeboxes typically fill them with items such as school supplies, hygiene products, small toys, shoes and other small gifts. Children receive literature in their language about “The Greatest Gift” of Jesus Christ, along with the opportunity to participate in a Bible study called “The Greatest Journey.”

“We have a love and a passion for children, and we love helping children learn about Christ, and sharing with them that they can have a part in the same hope we believe,” said Western Tidewater area coordinator Tammy Lindsay.

Tammy and Mike Lindsay’s family started with two boxes more than a decade ago and kept doing more each year before being asked to serve as area volunteers three years ago.

The couple has received many letters of appreciation from children that received gift boxes. Some were from children that drew pictures of themselves and their grateful families, and others from children that received the supplies they needed to finally go to school, Lindsay said.

“It’s very overwhelming to get those letters,” she said. “They’re very excited that they’re getting something and that somebody loves them.”

Visit www.samaritanspurse.org/occ for more information.

How to pack a shoebox:

Get your box

Start with an average-size cardboard or plastic shoebox. If you want to wrap it, cover the box and lid separately.

Boy or girl?

Determine whether your gift will be for a boy or a girl, and the child’s age category: 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14. Print out the appropriate label by downloading the artwork from the Operation Christmas Child website or picking up labels at a local participating church. Mark the correct age category on the label, and tape the label to the top of your box.

Fill with gifts

Select a medium to large “wow” item such as a soccer ball with pump or stuffed animal, then fill with other fun toys, hygiene items, and school supplies. See below for gift suggestions. Most importantly, pray for the child who will receive your gift

Include your donation

Donate $9 or more for each shoebox you prepare to help cover shipping and other project costs. You can write a check to Samaritan’s Purse (note “OCC” on memo line) and place it in an envelope on top of the gift items inside your box. If you or your family are preparing more than one shoe box, make one combined donation. You can also make the donation online and get a label that will track your box, enabling you to know which country it went to.

Drop off at a local church

Place a rubber band around each closed shoebox and drop off at the closest collection center between Nov. 13-20.

Gift ideas

  • A “wow” item: Doll (Consider including accessories such as doll clothes or a small doll bed), soccer ball (include a manual air pump), stuffed animal, toy truck or boat, an outfit of clothing to wear or a small musical instrument (such as a harmonica or woodwind camcorder), backpack
  • Personal Care Items: Comb, hairbrush, toothbrush, washcloth, bar soap (packaged and/or in a container), adhesive bandages (colorful ones can help a child be more willing to wear a bandage, but do not include antibiotic ointment), reusable plastic containers such as cups, water bottles, plates, bowls and blunt-edged utensils, blanket, non-liquid lip balm, flashlight (solar-powered or hand-crank; include extra batteries of type needed if battery operated), compact mirror, nail clipper and file, stick deodorant, washable/reusable cloth menstrual pads
  • School Supplies: Pencils, small manual pencil sharpener, colored pencils, pencil case, erasers, pens, crayons, markers, notebooks, blank index cards, solar-powered calculator, safety scissors, ruler, protractor, glue stick (no liquid glue), small adhesive tape
  • Clothing and Accessories: Shirts, pants, loose-fitting sundress, underwear, shoes, socks, flip-flops, hats, scarves, mittens, sunglasses, tote bags, purses, hair bows and friendship bracelets (woven with yarn or embroidery thread), decorative hat, wrist watch, bead jewelry kit, hair accessories such as hair clips, hair ribbons, elastic hair bands, bandanna
  • Crafts and Activities: Coloring pads, coloring books, picture books, watercolor sets (non-liquid finger paint palette, crayons, markers, paint brushes, canvases or paper), playdough (consider adding plastic cookie cutters the child can use with the playdough), stickers, binoculars, compass, puzzles, chalkboard and chalk, laminated decorative pictures with looped ribbon attached as a picture hanger, gardening kit with gloves and trowel hand tool (no gardening seeds), tool set with work gloves, fishing kit, brightly colored rope or twine, magnets, kaleidoscope, marbles, jump rope or make your own items as hair bows, finger puppets and friendship bracelets
  • Toys: Foam ball, kickball (include a manual air pump), baseball and mitt, yo-yo, small Frisbee, small kite, hacky sack
  • A personal note: You may enclose a note to the child and a photo of yourself, your family or group. If you include your name and address, then the child may write back.
  • Do not include: Candy; toothpaste; used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives, or military figures; chocolate or food; seeds; fruit rolls or other fruit snacks; drink mixes (powdered or liquid); liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers; aerosol cans.

Local Collection Centers

South Quay Baptist Church

9617 S. Quay Road

Nov. 13: 9 to 11 a.m.

Nov. 14-16: 4 to 6 p.m.

Nov. 17: 2 to 4 p.m.

Nov. 18: 3 to 5 p.m.

Nov. 19: 3 to 6 p.m.

Nov. 20: 9 to 11 a.m.

James River Community Church

8909 Eclipse Drive

Nov. 13-17: 6 to 8 p.m.

Nov. 18: 9 to 11 a.m.

Nov. 19: 1:30 to 4 p.m.

Nov. 20: 8 to 10 a.m.

Southside Baptist Church

917 Carolina Road

Nov. 13-14: 9 a.m. to noon

Nov. 15: 9 a.m. to noon & 5 to 8 p.m.

Nov. 16-17: 9 a.m. to noon

Nov. 18-19: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Nov. 20: 8 to 10 a.m.