Marion and Dave Smith of Bremerton donated 100 shoeboxes filled with goodies in October, giving Silverdale United Methodist Church a head start on Operation Christmas Child.
“I think any kid anywhere would like to receive a shoebox full of toys and candy,” said Melanie Lee, OCC site coordinator.
For the sixth consecutive year, Silverdale United Methodist Church, located on the corner of Silverdale Way and Ridgetop Boulevard, will serve as a collection site for the Samaritan’s Purse project.
People fill shoeboxes with goodies to be shipped to needy children living in more than 100 different countries, and Nov. 16-22 is National Collection Week.
“We’re just blessed to be able to do this,” Lee said.
The Silverdale church collected 1,266 boxes last year that were then shipped to needy children in Mexico. Lee said she hopes to collect 1,500 shoeboxes this year.
Once boxes are collected at the church, they are shipped to the Poulsbo collection site and, eventually, the processing center in California, before making the journey overseas and into the hands of a child.
“They’re so excited to receive the gift. It’s wonderful seeing the smiles on their faces,” Lee said. “It just really puts into perspective that many of them don’t receive gifts.”
Along with the shoeboxes, children also receive a gospel booklet in their language. Lee said they are handed out with the boxes and the children do not have to read them, but they’re available if they decide to flip through them.
“And after that, they can participate in a 10-lesson gospel course if they’d like,” she said. “Even though it has a Christian focus, it’s not just for Christians.”
People can create boxes for boys or girls, ages 2-4, 5-9 and 10-14. School supplies, toys, hygiene items, hard candy and wearable items such as socks, sunglasses and ball caps are appropriate to fill the shoeboxes.
“The kids’ favorite item is the stuffed animal for them to love and cuddle,” Lee said.
Lee shops year-round for shoebox items. She bought stuffed animals after last year’s holiday season at discounted rates and frequents dollar stores to find things.
“If you shop year-round, you can find some great deals,” Lee said. “Because of the dollar stores, it’s really affordable for most folks.”
People also may enclose a note or photo in a shoebox and, if a name and mailing address is included, the child receiving the box may write back.
“They realize that somebody out there cares about them,” Lee said. “This is a way for them to know they’re not left out, they’re not lost.”
People also are encouraged to pay $7 per box for shipping and handling.
By making a donation online with a credit or debit card, people can track their box and learn when and where it’s going.
The Silverdale United Methodist Church will collect shoeboxes 4-7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 16; 4-6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 17 through Friday, Nov. 20; 10 a.m.-noon Saturday, Nov. 21; and noon-5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22.
For more information about Operation Christmas Child, visit www.samaritanspurse.org/ezgive.