Every day boys and girls worldwide suffer from war, poverty, disease and natural disaster. Through a very special program, you have the opportunity to bring a smile to the face of one of those children, and offer them hope and encouragement.
Operation Christmas Child makes it possible for millions of children to experience God’s love through shoe boxes filled with gifts. One of the things that makes OCC so special is its emphasis on kids helping kids. This project provides a simple, tangible way for children and teenagers to join adults in sharing the joy of giving to children around the world at Christmas.
For six years, Fae Beaumont of Broken Bow has served as the local coordinator for the OCC collection site in Broken Bow. Local churches and individuals pack shoe boxes and bring them to the local collection site, First Christian Church, where they are packed in cartons and taken to Kearney.
Last year 611 shoe boxes were collected in Broken Bow, from not only this community but many outlying communities as well. Fae says this year she would like to see that number grow.
Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and distributed more than 86 million shoe box gifts for needy children in more than 130 countries and territories. The project was started in 1990 in Wales by a British layman named Dave Cooke.
The Broken Bow church serves as one of 428 collection centers across the United States. There are just over 2,500 relay centers, like the one in Kearney, and seven processing centers. Shoe boxes collected here go to the processing center in Denver, Colo., where they are loaded into planes and flown to their destinations.
Many of the boxes are delivered by sea, with 688 sea containers delivering packages last year. Once they are in the country, the shoe boxes are delivered to the children through local churches and Christian ministries. Shoe box gifts have been delivered by truck, donkey, dugout canoe, boat and helicopter.
Anyone can participate in the program by filling a shoe box with a few toys and basic necessities and delivering it to the collection site at First Christian Church. The first step is to select an age category for a boy or girl you would like to help: 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14 years old. Then fill a box with appropriate toys and other items for a child that age.
Popular items include small toys, stuffed animals, balls, games, candy, T-shirts, coloring books, school supplies and hygiene items such as soap, toothbrush and toothpaste. It is asked that no war-type toys, such as guns, knives, etc., be packed in the boxes.
Hard candies are always a good choice, but please do not pack chocolate or anything perishable. Because of the distance some of these boxes have to travel it may take a while for your gift to reach the child God intended it for.
It is also nice to write a personal note or include a family photo with your gift - the children really enjoy receiving those.
Samaritan’s Purse, parent organization for OCC, includes Christian literature in the child’s own language with each shoe box gift so children might come to know the true meaning of Christmas. These shoe boxes are a very personal way to let children know they are cared about and that God loves them.
Pamphlets are available which list suggested items for your shoe box, as well as complete instructions and labels. Those pamphlets can be picked up at the Custer County Chief office, or by calling Fae Beaumont at 308-872-6044. You can also visit the website at www.samaritanspurse.org  for more information or to register for your gift. When you register on-line you then have the opportunity to track your shoe box and know where it went.
Fae says it is important for those packing shoe box gifts to remember to use standard shoe boxes or 6-quart plastic containers. If you want to wrap your gift, please wrap the lid separately as the boxes are opened in Denver.
Once packed, each shoe box must be accompanied by a check for $7 to cover shipping costs. The check can be placed inside the box on top of the items.
The boxes will be collected Nov. 14 - 20, so start gathering your items and getting your box ready to pack. This holiday season help bring God’s love to a hurting child. Your simple gift can make an eternal difference.