By Lukas Eggen
Ely Times Staff Writer
As the holiday season kicks into high gear, Operation Christmas Child is hoping to gather toys, school supplies, hygiene and notes of encouragement for children around the world during its National Collection Week Nov. 18-25. A local collection site is located at Grace Foursquare Church in Ely.
For Ely resident Sue Winder, getting involved with Operation Christmas Child was something they’ve been doing for a decade now and looked to continue that tradition since coming to White Pine County.
“My husband and I had been involved with Operation Christmas Child before moving to White Pine County in 2003,” Sue Winder said. “Since living here, we have encouraged others to get involved by word of mouth, letters of invitation to different organizations and by radio and the newspaper. We saw the need for a Relay Center in White Pine County and opened the church my husband pastors, Grace Foursquare, as a Relay Center in 2006.”
Since its inception in 1993, OCC delivered more than 100 million shoebox gifts to children in more than 100 countries around the world. And organizers said its goal is to collect 9.8 million shoeboxes during its campaign in 2013.
With Ely having a local relay center, Winder said residents now have a way to take part in the program and help provide shoeboxes that children can enjoy no matter where they live.
“A Relay Center is a location approved through Operation Christmas Child where people can drop off the shoeboxes they have prepared,” Winder said.
“The Relay Center is then responsible for getting the gift-filled shoe boxes collected during National Collection Week to an OCC Collection Center. We take the shoe boxes collected at the center in Ely to the Collection Center in Salt Lake City.”
The Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization, organizes the project. Anyone looking to donate can also build a box through an online tool. But no matter if you bring in shoeboxes in person or via online, Winder said the cause is a worthy one to help reach children across the globe.
“Operation Christmas Child is a great cause for many reasons,” Winder said. “Every day, boys and girls worldwide suffer from war, poverty, disease and natural disaster. Operation Christmas Child makes it possible for millions of these children to experience God’s love through shoe boxes filled with gifts.”
During National Collection Week, OCC is looking for a strong showing of support from White Pine County. Once National Collection Week is over, the boxes will be transported to Salt Lake City. From there, they will be shipped around the world. Donors can receive an email notifying them of where their shoebox ends up. And Winder said she hopes that people take advantage of this opportunity to help children.
“During National Collection Week, we are looking for individuals, families and organizations to get involved and bring their gift-filled shoe boxes to the Relay Center so that we can get them on their way to children who would otherwise go without.”
The shoeboxes can contain a variety of items. A list of suggested gifts are available online. As the local Relay Center for OCC prepares for its National Collection Week, Winder said volunteers will help make donating a fun and painless process and one that people can be proud to say they took part of.
“To learn what the suggested gifts are and what cannot be included, you can pick up a brochure at Grace Foursquare, contact me at 296-2521 or go online to www.samaritanspurse.org,” Winder said. “When your shoe box is filled, simply bring it to the relay Center at 1301 Ave. E in Ely during National Collection Week (Nov. 15-25) during the hours of 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. An OCC volunteer will greet you and assist you with dropping off your shoe box.”