By GWEN SISSON
With children in college and finances a little tight, Sally Collison could not do all of the giving she wanted to for needy children around the world.
“I always wanted to send money to those children on television, but always felt that I couldn’t do it right now,” Collison said.
But a few years back, as Samaritian’s Purse launched the Operation Christmas Child program, Collison felt this was a way to give that was “do-able” for her budget.
“I remember when I first heard about this project that ‘I can fill a shoebox,’” Collison said. “That would be easy to do.”
It began with her shoeboxes, and when First United Methodist Church decided to take on Operation Christmas Child as a local ministry, she quickly found herself heading up the county Relay Center.
“It is such a wonderful project and everything goes to the children,” Collison said.
Collison said one of the things she loves about this project is that it is all volunteer and no money raised goes toward administrative costs. The $7 shipping fee is strictly for shipping the gift.
“And it is so personal,” Collison said. “While I am filling a shoebox, I am thinking about the child that will receive these gifts and praying for them. Praying that they can feel the love of Christ and that that love will make an impact on their lives.”
Collison said the main goal of the program is to introduce children to Jesus Christ and to provide gifts, toiletries and school supplies to needy children around the world.
Find out more by picking up a “How to Pack Your Show Box” brochure at First United Methodist Church of Starkville and at the Starkville Daily News office.
Special Operation Christmas Child boxes can be picked up at First UMC. Plastic boxes or shoeboxes wrapped in Christmas paper can also be used.
The Starkville Relay Center for Operation Christmas Child will be at the Starkville Community Church (the former Aspen Bay Candle Co. warehouse) at 1010 Lynn Lane. The Relay Center will open Monday.
As each is brought to the warehouse, volunteers will say a prayer for the shoe box gifts dropped off.
Choose gifts for a boy or a girl ages 2 to 14 in more than 90 countries around the world.
Write a letter to the child and include the address. This year, Operation Christmas Child is working with the children to correspond with the people who send their box. Include the address and begin to find ways to learn more about needy children and their home countries.
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.
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.