Operation Christmas Child returns to Dillon | SummitDaily.com

Operation Christmas Child returns to Dillon

summit daily news

Instilling the value of giving back in children is no easy task.

Volunteer opportunities are often aimed at adults, and allowance money only goes so far. Part of what makes the annual Operation Christmas Child event unique is its ease of access for caring individuals of any age.

Operation Christmas Child returns to Summit County next week with pick-up at Dillon Community Church (see box). Samaritan’s Purse coordinates the event, which aims to deliver 8.5 million shoeboxes to needy children across the globe for Christmas this year. Locally, 294 boxes were delivered from Dillon last year, and organizers hope to eclipse 300 this year.

Anyone can pack a shoebox, which is part of what makes the activity so great for kids. A child in Summit County can fill a shoebox for another child halfway across the world, and then track it online to see where it ends up.

Boxes can contain just about anything, but a mix of fun and functional is best. Toys are, of course, an integral part of any Christmas present for children.

“Some of these kids don’t have any concept of what it’s like to have a toy of their own,” Operation Christmas Child media relations specialist Jennifer Butler said. “It’s good for them to know that someone beyond the borders of their country cares about them.”

Toy recommendations include small cars, balls, dolls, stuffed animals, yo-yos, harmonicas and kazoos. Butler said toys relating to war – guns, soldiers, knives, etc. – would be best to avoid, as many of the children receiving the gifts live in war-torn countries.

Hard candy, lollipops and mints are also suggested, but candy that can melt should not be included. Any candy should also be double-wrapped to ensure it does not damage any other item in the box.

While toys and candy will elicit more oohs and aahs from recipients, school supplies and hygiene items are also important components of the shoebox presents. Pens, pencils, crayons, markers and other supplies can help children with their studies and creative pursuits. Toothbrushes, toothpaste, mild bar soap, combs and washcloths are also commonly included for children to maintain their health. Avoid liquids, lotions, medications and vitamins.

Personal touches like a note or pictures are encouraged. Boxes can be wrapped or decorated, but the lid must be wrapped separately, and the boxes should not be sealed. This will allow staff and volunteers to sort through the boxes for items not fit for shipping.

Once packed, the next step is to print off a label from the Samaritan’s Purse website at http://www.samaritans

purse.org. This step is optional, but it allows the sender to track where the package goes. A $7 shipping donation is recommended whether or not the label is printed, but the donation can be made online when downloading the label.

All that’s left is to drop the present off at the Dillon Community Church on the dates listed in the box. After the church receives the boxes, they are shipped to Denver for sorting and to ensure there are no “culturally sensitive” items, Butler said.

Those who want to volunteer can sign up at Dillon Community Church or by calling the church at (970) 468-2461.

Since its inception in 1989, Operation Christmas Child has delivered more than 77 million shoeboxes to children in 130 countries.

SDN reporter Drew Andersen can be contacted at (970) 668-4633 or drewa@summitdaily.com.

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