During November, the Samaritan’s Purse sets out Operation Christmas Child, a program that targets children in countries around the world, bringing them shoe boxes filled with toys, hygiene items, school supplies and more.
Since it’s inception 20 years ago, volunteers have gone to more than 130 countries to deliver the donated boxes, and this year delivered more than 100 million boxes to children across the world. A group of volunteers recently returned from a week-long trip in the Philippines after bringing the gifts to more than 1,000 children.
Though the shoe boxes were collected seven months ago, they were only recently delivered because of the red tape associated with customs.
Kathleen McInerny, a volunteer for the branch of Operation Christmas Child in Cumberland, York and Oxford counties, says that her experience in the Philippines was filled with charity and hope. Nearly 6,000 boxes were collected from Cumberland, York and Oxford county. McInerny said this is a 46-percent increase from last year.
In Oxford Hills, McInerny said that there is currently only one location taking donations for the shoe boxes—the West Paris Baptist Church. She says 80-percent of the donations are from churches across the country. The program is hoping to hold donation locations in Livermore Falls and the Rumford area.
When choosing where to bring the boxes each year, McInerny said that organizers look for areas that have been hit by disasters, such as hurricanes, floods or war.
“It’s their little gift of hope,” said McInerny.
McInerny said she is always on the look out for items to purchase for shoe boxes that she can donate to Christmas Child. When she goes to shopping malls or grocery stores, she will often purchase items to donate.
She reflected on the childrens’ reaction when they received their gifts. Many groups of children waited quietly while the boxes were being handed out, while others counted down to when they would receive them, similar to American kids on Christmas morning—but in June.