Shoebox Ride set for Saturday

Published 7:52 pm Monday, July 30, 2018

The ninth annual Shoebox Ride will roll through Suffolk’s country roads this Saturday to raise money and support for Operation Christmas Child.

The event will begin and end at Somerton Friends Meeting, 5239 Quaker Drive, and will be held once again by Corinth Friends Meeting. Rides in years past have brought as many as 70 bikes depending on the weather, according to Amanda Smith, pastor at Corinth Friends Meeting in Ivor.

Operation Christmas Child is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse that collects gift-filled shoeboxes and delivers and distributes them to poverty-stricken children around the world. Smith said her father, Raiford Baker, started the event to combine his two greatest loves.

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“He jokes that the two things he loves most are riding his motorcycle and Operation Christmas Child, so he wanted to combine the two,” she said in a phone interview.

Smith and her family raised enough money to pack and pay the shipping costs for 40 shoeboxes in the first year of the Shoebox Ride. Their numbers have grown with each year since with increasing support from local businesses. They packed and shipped 420 shoeboxes last year and more than 1,500 in total since the first event, according to Smith.

This year’s Shoebox Ride features more than a dozen local sponsors, including Tidewater Motorcycles and Ricky and Roy’s Catering. Smith also gave credit to the numerous volunteers at Corinth Friends Meeting that bring a bag of donations nearly every Sunday.

“People want to get behind this, and we’re thankful for it,” she said.

The shoeboxes packed by the church this year will be for boys from ages 5 to 9. Crayons, coloring books, pens, erasers, cups, utensils and hygiene kits are some of the regular shoebox inclusions, Smith said. She described some of the letters they’ve received from grateful children over the years, including a girl that was so happy to get a simple washcloth.

According to Smith, this girl lived in an orphanage and didn’t even have her own washcloth. She had to share one with the other children.

“It’s good for us to recognize in the midst of our overwhelming abundance that not everybody lives that way, and that we have the means to help other people,” she said.

This year’s event will include a ride about an hour and a half in length, followed by lunch catered by Ricky and Roy’s, a live DJ and T-shirts on sale for $12 each. There will be door prize drawings at 1 p.m. along with silent auction bidding and pictures with the Chick-fil-A cow courtesy of the Chick-fil-A on Main Street.