Luis Gonzalez grew up in Panama City, Panama, in the ghetto, raised by a single mother. They lived in a small house with dirt floors. “When I was about to enter my first year of school, my family didn’t have the money to buy school supplies,” said Gonzalez, whose situation was not uncommon for children living in poverty.
Gonzalez was invited to an event in his community where Samaritan’s Purse distributed gift filled shoeboxes through its Operation Christmas Child project. Opening his shoebox, Gonzalez found it filled with school supplies, as well as toys and hygiene items. He was thrilled.
“I am committed to sharing my story to encourage others to pack shoebox gifts,” said Gonzalez. “I know from personal experience the impact it can have on a child and the difference it can make in their life.”
This month, Portsmouth-area residents are taking advantage of back-to-school sales to stock up on school supplies for Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts. They understand that for children like Gonzalez, these simple supplies are critical to their ability to attend school.
Mary Conley is an Operation Christmas Child Project Leader at New Life Family Worship Center because “Our church family loves our children, and as our way of “Living With A Cause,” we want to extend that love to children in dire need who are desperate for school supplies. We are happy to share school supplies and other items they need by filling Gospel opportunities.”
Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has delivered gift-filled shoeboxes to more than 135 million children in more than 150 countries and territories. In 2016, Operation Christmas Child hopes to collect enough shoebox gifts to reach another 12 million children.
HOW SCIOTO COUNTY RESIDENTS CAN GET INVOLVED:
* PACK A SHOEBOX GIFT—Fill shoeboxes with a “Wow” item, like a doll or soccer ball, and other fun toys, school supplies, hygiene items and notes of encouragement or visit samaritanspurse.org/occ to build a shoebox online. The shoebox gift may be the first gift a child has ever received.
* SIGN UP TO VOLUNTEER—Volunteer opportunities are available in Scioto County. For more information, call Gaylene St. Leger Cox or visit samaritanspurse.org/occ.
* SPREAD THE WORD—Enlist individuals, families and groups to take part in creating shoebox gifts.
Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, call 330 904-5873 or visit samaritanspurse.org/occ. National Collection Week for gift-filled shoeboxes is Nov. 14 – 21; however, shoebox gifts are collected all year at the Samaritan’s Purse headquarters in Boone, North Carolina.
Using special tracking technology, participants can discover where in the world their gifts will be delivered to children in need. To register a shoebox gift, use the online donation form at samaritanspurse.org/occ.