Next month, five sites in Southwest Michigan will be among the 5,000 drop-off locations nationwide collecting shoebox gifts for children overseas.
National collection week for Operation Christmas Child will be Nov. 18-25.
Families, churches and groups will transform empty shoeboxes into gifts filled with toys, school supplies and hygiene items.
The Samaritan’s Purse project partners with local churches across the globe to deliver the boxes to children affected by war, disease, disaster, poverty and famine. For many of these children, it will be the first gift they have ever received, according to a news release.
This year, St. Joseph-area residents hope to collect more than 38,000 gifts to contribute to the 2019 global goal of reaching 11 million children.
“I love seeing the local community rally together for a global impact,” Regional Director David Zimmerman said in the release. “We see all ages getting involved – and more and more every year.”
Local collection sites and times are:
• Oakridge Community Church, 766 Oakridge Drive, St. Joseph: 5-7 p.m. Nov. 18-22, 24; 10 a.m.-noon Nov. 23; 8-10 a.m. Nov. 25.
• First Church of Christ, 2240 Yankee St., Niles: noon-2 p.m. Nov. 18; 8-11 a.m. Nov. 19; 5-7:30 p.m. Nov. 20; 9 a.m.-noon Nov. 21; 3:30-7 p.m. Nov. 22; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Nov. 23; 12:30-6 p.m. Nov. 24; 8:30 a.m.-noon Nov. 25.
• Penn Friends Community Church, 19107 Quaker St., Cassopolis: 9 a.m.-noon Nov. 18, 25; 5-7 p.m. Nov. 19-21; 4-6 p.m. Nov. 22; 10 a.m.-noon Nov. 23; 1-3 p.m. Nov. 24.
• Calvary Chapel of New Buffalo, 1615 E. Buffalo St.: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Nov. 18-19; noon-2 p.m. Nov. 20; 5-7 p.m. Nov. 21; 5-8 p.m. Nov. 22; 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Nov. 23; noon-2:30 p.m. Nov. 24; 9-11 a.m. Nov. 25.
• LifeBridge Church, 10420 M-140, South Haven: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 18-20, 22; 6-8 p.m. Nov. 21; 9-11 a.m. Nov. 23; 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Nov. 24; 8-10 a.m. Nov. 25.
Participants also can donate $9 per shoebox online through “Follow Your Box” and receive a tracking label to discover its destination.
Those who prefer the convenience of online shopping can visit samaritanspurse.org/buildonline to select gifts matched to a child’s specific age and gender, then finish packing the virtual shoebox by adding a photo and personal note of encouragement.
The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world and, together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Since 1993, it has collected and delivered more than 168 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 160 countries and territories.
For more information on how to participate, call 937-374-0761 or visit samaritanspurse.org/occ.