By BRIAN HAWKINS
The local effort to support Operation Christmas Child is kicking into high gear this week as collection of shoe box gifts for children around the world continues.
The Starkville Relay Center for Operation Christmas Child will again be at the Starkville Community Church (the former Aspen Bay Candle Co. warehouse) at 1010 Lynn Lane. The Relay Center will open this coming Monday.
The national collection week for the Operation Christmas Child shoe box gifts is this next week. Dropoff hours that week at the warehouse are as follows:
• Monday, Nov. 15, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
• Tuesday, Nov. 16, 4 to 5 p.m.
• Wednesday, Nov. 17, noon to 1 p.m.
• Thursday, Nov. 18, 4 to 5 p.m.
• Friday, Nov. 19, noon to 1 p.m.
• Saturday, Nov. 20, 4 to 5 p.m.
• Sunday, Nov. 21, 2 to 6 p.m.
• Monday, Nov. 24, 9 to 11 a.m..
Other dropoff times can be scheduled by appointment by calling 312-8832.
As each is brought to the warehouse, volunteers will say a prayer for the shoe box gifts dropped off.
In recent years, Starkville residents helped more than 2,200 children across the world experience the joy of Christmas through Operation Christmas Child.
The shoe boxes those children received did not contain shoes; they were filled with small toys, candy, school supplies, hygiene items and clothes — items many locally might take for granted, but for those children, mean pure joy.
That’s the motivation behind Operation Christmas Child, a project of the international Samaritan’s Purse ministry headquartered in Boone, N.C., in seeking the shoe box gifts, and Starkville residents are again being called upon to participate in the project this year.
The shoe box gifts are sent to children ages 2 to 14 in more than 90 countries around the world.
For 2006, 2007 and 2008 combined, Starkville residents sent 6,502 shoe box gifts through Operation Christmas Child, Collison said.
All anyone needs to make a shoe box gift is a shoe box and an Operation Christmas Child brochure, which can be obtained by calling Samaritan’s Purse at 1-800-353-5949.
Among the recommended items that may be packed into the shoe boxes are:
• Necessities — Underwear, socks, T-shirts, combs, hairbrushes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, washcloths, deodorant, nail clippers, nail files and a drinking cup.
• School supplies — Coloring books, crayons, colored pencils, markers, pens, pencils, pencil sharpeners, eraser, writing pads, paper, scissors, glue sticks (no liquid glue), solar calculators, rulers, stamps and ink pad˘ sets.
• General items — Hard candy, lollipops, mints, gum (particularly bubble gum), sunglasses, flashlights with batteries, small picture books, travel games, stuffed animals, stickers, wind-up toys, a Slinky, puzzles, Etch-a-Sketch, Play-Doh, toys that light up or make noise, musical instruments (harmonicas, flutes, kazoos, etc.). Candies should be double bagged for freshness.
Since each shoe box gift is designated for a boy or a girl, recommended items according to gender include:
• Boys — Nerf type balls, soccer ball with pump, small cars or trucks (especially those that wind up), Legos, wallets, baseball caps, yo-yos and paddleballs.
• Girls — Baby dolls, Barbie dolls, toy jewelry sets, jump ropes, jacks, hair bows/clips, music boxes, purse, stationery, small beauty sets (combs/brushes, plastic mirror).
Items that should not be included include:
• War related items (toy guns, knives, soldiers, etc.).
• Liquids (shampoo, glue, nail polish, etc.).
• Medicines (vitams, cough drops, etc.).
• Glass or breakable items (mirrors, china dolls, etc.).
• Used or worn items.
It is also recommended that the shoe box gift giver include a photo of himself or herself, an anchor toy such as a doll or ball, and some candy in every shoe box gift prepared.
When filled, enclose a check for $7 for shipping costs (made to Samaritan’s Purse) on top of the gifts and then close the lid and secure with rubber bands. Tape the label that indicates the gender and age of the child this gift will be given to on top of the box.
Say a prayer for this child and his family.
Once box gifts are prepared, individuals, churches or other groups may drop them off at the former Aspen Bay Candle Co. warehouse.