Holiday project to provide shoeboxes of happiness

Tom Joyce Staff Reporter

November 16, 2013

Little things often mean a lot, and for children who find themselves in a disaster area or other troubled location a shoebox filled with toys and other items can make life much brighter.

That is the goal behind Operation Christmas Child, an effort undertaken through the Samaritan’s Purse organization to aid those in need, which includes a Surry County collection point at Bannertown Baptist Church. It is led by a local couple, Ronnie and Sarah Simpson.

“We’ve been doing it 10 to 12 years,” Sarah Simpson said Friday of the local participation in a program that operates 3,800 collection centers around the U.S. “So I think that’s a big deal — a small town like Bannertown being one of them,” she added.

The church itself is hoping to collect about 200 shoeboxes, and 3,000 from elsewhere in the county, including from school and other groups.

Under Operation Christmas Child, those interested can use regular shoeboxes or obtain ones that are decorated by contacting the Simpsons at 789-2505.

The recipients fill the boxes with small toys such as dolls, stuffed animals, balls, yo-yos or others; school supplies that can include pens, pencils, sharpeners, writing pads, crayons or markers; hygiene items such as toothbrushes or combs; and clothing and miscellaneous items, for example, socks, caps or sunglasses and flashlights.

Basically, the list includes anything that will fit into a shoebox, with donors also asked to contribute $7 to cover shipping and other costs for the boxes.

Personal notes also can be included, which should contain senders’ addresses since some recipients like to write back.

Those who fill up the shoeboxes are asked to place a rubber band around the closed boxes and take them to Bannertown Baptist Church between this coming Monday and Nov. 25. From there, a big truck from Mike Jones Produce will transport the boxes to another location and they eventually will go to youths in trouble spots around the globe.

Sarah Simpson said the list typically includes places in the U.S. — including economically stressed mining areas — and worldwide where disasters have occurred, such as the Philippines where a deadly typhoon recently struck. “They go around the world,” Simpson said.

“This may be the only thing these children ever get for Christmas.”

Shoeboxes will be collected at Bannertown Baptist Church from 1 to 3 p.m. from this Monday through Thursday; 1 to 6 p.m. next Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. next Saturday; 1 to 5 p.m. on Nov. 24; and 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Nov. 25. More information is available from the church office at 786-5407.

The public also can support the shoebox effort with monetary contributions by making checks payable to Samaritan’s Purse and delivering them to the local church during the Nov. 18-25 collection period. Checks, or filled shoeboxes, also can be mailed to Samaritan’s Purse, 801 Bamboo Road, Boone, NC, 28607.

Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or