DELAWARE, Ohio – Delaware Bible Church is one of dozens of places around Central Ohio where people can drop off shoeboxes filled with gifts for needy children around the world as part of Operation Christmas Child. Marilyn Taynor is leading the effort at the local church. She introduced The Ohio Star to Michelle Williams, the Area Coordinator for the Columbus West Team. Williams and the entire volunteer crew are preparing for the busy season – thousands of filled boxes will be dropped off at various locations between November 18 and November 25.
When asked how long Operation Christmas Child had been active in Central Ohio, Williams replied, “Samaritan’s Purse began collecting gift-filled shoeboxes for children in war-torn Bosnia in 1993. I’ve packed shoeboxes since around 1995 and became a year-round volunteer eight years ago.”
Next Williams responded to the question, “Has it grown? If yes, how much?”
“Yes, in 1993 people packed 25,000 shoeboxes and last year there were close to 11 million!” (emphasis hers)
“How many different organizations are involved and what types participate?” The Ohio Star asked.
“Anyone can/is encouraged to pack a shoebox. Families make this a project they do annually with the children using their own money to buy the items. Many groups collect all year and then have a packing party where everyone gathers on a set date and pack boxes for a couple hours. It’s a fun way to get a lot done quickly,” Williams said.
“In our area there are boy scouts, Heritage Girls, college groups, businesses, schools and churches who participate. Chick-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby are two groups that are National Partners with Samaritan’s Purse and they also help by promoting the ‘shoebox season’,” Williams added.
One local packing party that’s been announced is hosted by GOPMoms, a Republican women’s group. The event will be held on November 16 from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm at the Delaware County Republican Party Headquarters in the city of Delaware.
Williams shared a story about when she saw Ukrainian children receive their boxes. “I went to the Ukraine in 2018…Some of the things I noticed were that the children were all very excited to receive the gifts, but they were even more thrilled if there was a letter/picture included. We had a translator with us and if there was a letter, they would go right to her and have it translated. Some of them would hug the pictures and ask, ‘Why would this person send me such beautiful gifts? They don’t even know me’!”
Some favorite items, according to Williams, are sunglasses and soccer balls. She recommends including at least two needles to blow up any balls that are sent.
Packed shoeboxes can be dropped off at many area locations, including Delaware Bible Church, Gateway Community Church in Powell, Fulton Creek Evangelical Friends in Richwood and Marysville Grace Church in Marysville. For additional drop off locations and for more information, visit Samaritan’s Purse website.
When asked why she got involved and what is her favorite part of Operation Christmas Child, Williams shared, “As a young family we became involved because it was a great way to teach our boys about reaching out to other children in a tangible way…I love the idea that such a small gift can impact a child in a profound way that can change their life forever.”
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