In nine years of involvement with Operation Christmas Child, Suzanne Coleman has heard plenty of stories of its positive impact.
The annual project run by Samaritan’s Purse international evangelical and relief organization collects and delivers gift-filled shoeboxes to millions of children around the world.
“There are some beautiful stories that just have testified to how that shoebox became a personal story to that particular family that it goes to,” she said, but one in particular stands out to the Pilot Mountain resident.
“One shoebox had only socks in it,” she said. “Whoever created it felt the need to fill it only with socks.”
It turned out, the child to whom that box was delivered had been victim to some sort of fire, and his or her feet were burned.
“All they could wear were socks, and here came this shoebox that came only with socks,” Coleman said.
It reminded the year-round volunteer of the organization of a box her own daughter had filled.
“Everything in it was red, as many red things as she could find,” she said.
“I don’t know the answer,” to the significance of the red items to whomever received the shoebox, but, she said, “it must have had something important.”
Those who wish to have a similar impact on a child’s life have the opportunity to do so now.
The national collection week of Operation Christmas Child is currently underway, with several drop off points available locally until Nov. 21.
Information on how to pack and wrap each shoebox, what kinds of items to include, and how to track each package is available online at https://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child
“They’re just basic items that we really kind of take for granted in our country,” Coleman said of the box contents.
“Everything from a little stuffed toy to pens and paper, and bar of soap a toothpaste, a toothbrush,” she said, “those kind of things are what they encourage people to put in the shoeboxes.”
From those simple, everyday items, “it has become this amazing huge ministry,” said Coleman.
“It’s really just an opportunity to give a child a smile,” she said. “They might never have received a gift. Most children have never received a gift. A lot of times the things that are in the boxes will be something that they need but nobody really would have known that’s what they needed.”
Last year in the North West Piedmont Triad area 43,615 boxes were collected from individuals, business’, civic groups, and churches.
The boxes are transported around the world to 150 different countries and territories.
“They use everything from a dogsled to boats on the Amazon to get into the most rural of places,” she said.
For those who can’t physically build a box, information is also available on the organization’s website to build a shoebox online.
For those who do fill a box, Coleman has some advice.
“Listen to that inside voice,” she said.
• Mount Airy
Bannertown Baptist Church
First Baptist Church
• State Road
Oak Ridge Baptist Church
• Sandy Ridge
Oak Ridge Baptist Church
• Rural Hall /King
Jefferson Church of Christ
West Yadkin Baptist Church
Members of the Wednesday knitting group at the Yadkin Valley Senior Center show off some of the 137 prayer cloths which were knitted for inclusion in Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes in 2015.
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.