Shoeboxes, toys, gifts and more are on the minds of volunteers at Richmond Hill United Methodist Church this week as they wrap and pack boxes as part of Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child.
The church serves as a relay station, or donation drop-off location, for Richmond Hill and surrounding communities, and organizer Jane Walden said as of Tuesday, nearly 300 gift-filled shoe boxes had been collected.
Operation Christmas Child relay week continues through Monday, and volunteers will be in the church’s chapel from 1-3:30 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, 3-6 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, 1-3 p.m. Sunday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday.
“The different churches and people, they bring boxes here and we pack them up and then we take them to Savannah Christian (Church) and from there, they are taken to Atlanta to a distribution center,” Walden said.
Once in Atlanta, the boxes are sorted and then distributed all over the world to less fortunate children in countries like Belize, India, Ukraine, Madagascar and more, Walden said.
She added before boxes are sent out, a book called “The Greatest Journey” is put in the box. The children then go through a 12-lesson Bible study with the book, she said.
“And when they finish the course, they get a Bible in the language that they speak,” Walden said.
This is the third year RHUMC has served as a drop-off location for the effort. Walden said last year the church collected more than 1,200 boxes.
“This year we would like to get 1,200-plus boxes,” she said. “We always like to meet what we got the year before.”
Walden, who heads the effort with help of several volunteers, said she continues to work on the project because of her love for children and God.
“I do it for the love of the children and the love of God,” she said. “And introducing children to Jesus — that’s the important thing. Everybody needs to know who he is.”
Walden said boxes can be designated to a boy or girl and any age between 2 and 14 years. Toys, clothes, wash cloths, soap, toilet paper, hairbrushes, jewelry, toothpaste and more can be included.
Other items such as paper, pens, calculators, t-shirts, socks and flip flops, handmade toys or clothes can also be included in boxes. However, any liquid items like food, shampoo, body wash, lotions and fingernail polish, or items that represent war are not allowed in boxes, Walden said.
Walden encourages the community to bring gift-filled shoeboxes through the remainder of relay week.
“We’re not open all day, but if they want to drop them off at any time they can because the church secretary will take them,” Walden said.
For more information, contact the church at 756-2190 or visit www.samaritanspurse.org.