SMOKEY POINT — As many Americans prepare for winter holiday activities, Marysville and Arlington volunteers with Operation Christmas Child, the world's largest Christmas project of its kind, are filling shoe box gifts with toys, school supplies and hygiene items for needy children overseas. This year-round project of the international Christian relief and evangelism organization Samaritan's Purse, headed by Franklin Graham, is ramping up as local businesses, churches and community groups prepare to collect more than 600 gift-filled shoe boxes during National Collection Week from Monday, Nov. 12, through the following Monday, Nov. 19.
Anyone can drop off a packed shoe box at the Marysville and Arlington collection sites, after which a variety of transportation options — including trucks, trains, boats, bikes and even elephants — will be employed to hand-deliver the shoe box gifts to hurting children in 100 countries around the world.
The Amen Christian Bookstore at 318 State Ave. will serve as this year's collection site in Marysville from Nov. 12 through Saturday, Nov. 17, from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., as well as on Sunday, Nov. 18, from 12:30-3 p.m. and Nov. 19 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The Atonement Free Lutheran Church at 6905 172nd St. NE will serve as this year's collection site in Arlington from Nov. 12-17, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., as well as on Nov. 18 from 12-2 p.m. and Nov. 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
More local collection sites can be found using the online ZIP code locator at www.samaritanspurse.org/occ.
In 2012, Operation Christmas Child expects to reach a milestone, by collecting and delivering shoe boxes to more than 100 million children since 1993. During that time, Operation Christmas Child has collected more than 94 million shoe box gifts and hand-delivered them to suffering children in more than 130 countries. This year, Operation Christmas Child hopes to collect another 9 million gift-filled shoe boxes. For many children, the shoe box gift will be the first gift they have ever received.
Operation Christmas Child uses tracking technology to allow participants to "follow" their boxes to the destination countries, where they will be given to children in need. To register a shoe box gift and find out its destination country, use the "Follow Your Box" donation form found at www.samaritanspurse.org/occ.
For more information about Operation Christmas Child, call 253-572-1155 or visit www.samaritanspurse.org/occ. National Collection Week for gift-filled shoe boxes is Nov. 12-19, but shoe box gifts are collected all year at the Samaritan's Purse headquarters in Boone, N.C.