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Operation Christmas Child dropoffs underway

The Inter-Mountain photo by Edgar Kelley Patricia Parsons and Ann Pritt pack up donated shoe boxes at the Big Lots store in Elkins for Samaritan’s Purse International’s annual Operation Christmas Child program.

ELKINS — Operation Christmas Child is currently accepting shoe box donations locally, including at the Big Lots store in Elkins.

The shoe boxes are distributed to needy children in more than 100 countries around the world each Christmas. Donations can be dropped off at Big Lots on the Beverly Five Lane through Monday afternoon during business hours. Shoe boxes can be any type and those making donations are asked to choose whether the recipient will be a boy or girl in the age groups 2 to 4, 5 to 9, and 10 to 14.

Samaritan’s Purse is requesting that the boxes be filled with one “Wow” item, which can be something such as a soccer ball with a pump or a stuffed animal. The remainder of the box is to be filled with other fun toys, hygiene items and school supplies.

“The shoe boxes go throughout the world and we are hoping to collect 11 million this year,” said Samaritan’s Purse representative Patricia Parsons. “We are reaching out to the unreached children all over the world who don’t know anything about Jesus.

“A lot of the children we reach out to don’t have school supplies, so its nice to put pencils, paper, crayons, colored pencils, erasers and those type of things in the box. And there are also children that don’t have clean water and things like that, so we like people to include wash clothes, soap, tooth brushes and things of that nature.”

Parsons said the boxes can also include clothes and shoes as long as they are new or in newer shape. She said hats and gloves are also good items to put in the boxes because some of the children receiving the boxes live where it’s cold.

“There are some of the children that these boxes are going to that have absolutely nothing,” she said. “And many of them have never received a gift in their life and have never been given anything at all.”

In the areas where the children receive gifts, there will be a 12-week discipleship class that will be offered to those wishing to attend.

“They are invited to learn about Jesus and what he’s done for us,” said Parsons. “Once they graduate from that class they can go and tell their parents and their siblings what they have learned about Jesus.”

Other dropoff locations include Tygart Valley Ministries in Beverly, through Monday; Bowden Family Worship Center, through Monday; and First Baptist Church in Buckahnnon, through Monday.

This will be the 26th year that Samaritan’s Purse International has presented Operation Christmas Child. A shoe box donation can also be made online where the organization will personalize a gift from the donor along with a letter and photo.

To donate online or for more information go to samaritanspurse.org. There is also a fun game for children to download and play on the site.

Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world.

Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet the needs of people are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine.

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