Operation Christmas Child 2002 gets ready to take off

Posted: Tuesday, November 19, 2002

If you would like to share the joy of Christmas with a needy child in Far East Russia, there are only a few shopping days left to fill your shoebox.

Operation Christmas Child will be receiving boxes through November 25th at their hanger and offices at the Soldotna Airport.

The unique ministry was started by Samaritan's Purse many year's ago when the organizations founder, Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, was asked by a friend to deliver some gifts to children of emerging countries where Samaritan's Purse was doing relief work. According to Larry Jarrett, Associate Program Manager for Alaska and Far East Russia, that first year they delivered some 20,000 shoeboxes filled with gifts. The growth of the program since then has been somewhat of a phenomenon, and last year Samaritan's Purse delivered five and a half million boxes to nearly one hundred countries around the world.

"Alaska may be just a small picture of what goes on worldwide, but last year we delivered 8,000 boxes from Alaska to Far East Russia and we're hoping to double that this year and take some 16,000 boxes to Russia this year," said Jarrett.

Suggested gifts include small toys, school supplies, hygiene items, t-shirts, and hard candies, all items that fit into a standard shoe box. Operation Christmas Child brochures are available at the Samaritan Air hanger at the Soldotna Airport, or at Beemun's Variety on the Sterling highway in Soldotna. The brochure explains how to pack your shoebox and what items may and may not be included and also has a "boy" or "girl" sticker that should be attached to the box.

Typically the value of the items in a box is around $20 dollars, but Jarrett says some families spend quite a bit more than that. "Another thing we encourage people to do is to put a photograph of themselves or family along with a note in the box. I've returned to some of the orphanages where we've given out boxes in the past and come back a year later and the photo that was in the box is still up next to the child's little bed, that may be the only family the child has is a family over here that loved them enough to do that for them," added Jarrett. For more information on Operation Christmas Child 2002 call Samaritan's Purse at 260-1946.

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