When I was 13-years-old I heard about an organization called Samaritan's Purse and an amazing project they'd just launched called 'Operation Christmas Child' where shoeboxes filled with small gifts and encouraging notes would be distributed to kids in other countries- kids who desperately needed some extra love in their life. After hearing about this incredible project, I had such a strong feeling in my heart that I needed to get involved, and so I did.

Thom McAn is a shoe company which used to have stores in most every mall across America and they were so giving when I Called their corporate office and asked if they would be willing to donate shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. I can't remember the exact number of boxes they donated, but it was in the hundreds. Also extremely giving was Walmart who sent a semi truck around to all of the stores near my house to pick up donations. I don't even have words to tell you how amazed I was when that semi truck pulled up in front of my house because I had no idea how magnificent the number of donations would be. By the time the truck was unpacked into my house, my kitchen, living, and dining rooms were packed floor to ceiling with donations.

It took about a month for my family and a small army of friends to sort through and pack everything. My dad rented a big U-Haul and he and I drove the U-Haul from Albany to one of the Samaritan's Purse locations in the south to drop off our Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes.

So many times over the years, I've found myself thinking about that shoebox mission. I've wondered about the kids who received my shoeboxes and if that small box placed into their hands brought as much joy to their heart as it did to mine when I was putting it together.

Maybe you'd like to get your kids involved in a project that will touch the lives of other kids while teaching them the importance of having a giving heart. If so, Calvary Community Church in Johnson City is serving as an official collection center to collect shoeboxes filled with toys, school supplies, hygiene items, clothing and other gifts, which will be shipped to kids in more than 100 countries through Samaritan's Purse and Operation Christmas Child.

Samaritan's Purse is a nonprofit relief and evangelism organization and since 1993, they've collected and delivered more than 124 million filled shoe boxes through Operation Christmas Child. This is the 12th year that the Southern Tier has participated and the goal for our area is to collect and donate around 11,000 boxes. If you'd like to be part of this incredible and life changing experience, Calvary Community Church on Harry L. Drive in Johnson City will be accepting donations on the following dates and times:

Monday, 11/16- 3pm-6pm
Tuesday, 11/17- 3pm-6pm
Wednesday, 11/18- 6:30pm-8:30pm
Thursday, 11/19- 3pm-6pm
Friday, 11/20- 3pm-6pm
Saturday, 11/22- 9:30am-12:30pm
Sunday. 11/22- 1pm-4pm
Monday, 11/23- 10am-2pm

Please keep in mind that all items need to be able to fit into a standard size shoe-box. If you're looking for ideas of what to donate, Samaritan's Purse offers these suggestions.


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