Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Operation Christmas Child...or Shoeboxes, Shoeboxes, Shoeboxes...

Today a couple of friends and I spent the day volunteering at one of the processing warehouses of Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child. Operation Christmas Child, also known as the Shoebox Project, collects, processes, and delivers millions of shoeboxes full of gifts for needy children around the world each year.

This year they anticipate processing and delivering EIGHT MILLION boxes! The warehouse at which we volunteered is located in Southern California, and half a million boxes will go through that warehouse alone.

This is the sight that greeted us as we walked into the warehouse:

...thousands and thousands and thousands of boxes of gifts...

Below is a close-up of a couple of pallets of shoe boxes.
Before arriving at the processing warehouse, each of these shoeboxes was lovingly packed with little gifts for a boy or a girl, such as books, toys, pencils, crayons, toothbrush/toothpaste, brushes/combs, candy, stuffed toys, and other small treats. Individuals from all over the United States fill these boxes each Christmas to bring joy to children from ages 2-14 all over the world. The boxes are delivered by Samaritan's Purse staff to different countries each year.

When the boxes arrive at the warehouse, each box has to be "processed" by volunteers. The steps are presorting, inspecting, and cartoning. At the "presort" station, the boxes are opened and any money (including the minimal shipping fee) is removed from the box. The boxes are then stacked and moved on pallets to the "inspecting" stations.
The photo below shows volunteers working at one of the rows of inspecting stations. That's what I was doing today--I was an Inspector!

This (below) was one of my stations. We were working on boxes for children from ages 5-9 (see the sign at the end of the table). Here we take a box from the pallet behind us and place it on the table in front of us. We open the box and carefully look through the items inside the box. We take out any "inappropriate" items such as liquids, scary or military toys, and food items. We then fill the empty places in the box with extra toys, hygiene items, and candy. We then tape the box shut and place it on the conveyor belt above our heads (see the silver thing), and it makes its way to the cartoners at the end of the table.

Here is one of the boxes -- this one for a girl.
And here is one which a child decorated before filling!
Once the boxes are sorted, taped, and sent to the cartoners, they are put in large boxes to be shipped to their recipient countries. See all the boxes full of shoeboxes in these photos:

Operation Christmas Child is all about bringing joy and the Good News of Christ to children all over the world, and the work of this ministry touches the lives of so many. Whether through packing a simple shoebox or volunteering time in the processing warehouses, each person involved can make an eternal difference in the life of a child. It is an amazing organization through which God works miracles each year!
"Operation Christmas Child brings joy and hope to children in desperate situations around the world through gift-filled shoe boxes and the Good News of God’s love. Since 1993, more than 61 million shoe boxes have been packed, shipped, and delivered across the globe. People of all ages can be involved in this simple, hands-on missions project while focusing on the true meaning of Christmas—Jesus Christ."


  1. How fun was that! :) We have filled those shoe boxes for those kiddos. It is so awesome. We didn't do that this year at church, you inspired me to do it with the girls and send it to the Warehouse. Merry Christmas!

  2. wow, that is a lot of box!!!
    I can't believe it Christmas is this close :-)


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