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Operation Christmas Child

The Inter-Mountain photo by Edgar Kelley Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child area coordinator Patricia Parsons, left, loads some shoe boxes on a trailer at Elkins Big Lots. Helping Parsons is Carl Murphy, who has been a volunteer with the organization for 25 years.

ELKINS — Each holiday season Samaritan’s Purse collects shoe box donations at numerous locations throughout the area for its annual Operation Christmas Child.

For one week in November, the organization has drop off locations in five local counties, including Tucker, Barbour, Upshur, Randolph and Pocahontas. At the end of the week the boxes are collected and distributed to needy children in more than 100 countries around the world

The boxes are filled with a variety of items including hygiene products, toys, games, clothes, shoes and a stuffed animal that the children can hold and hug. The organization always also asks that one “wow” item be placed in the box, and $9 for shipping. The “wow” item can be anything from a soccer ball with a pump, to an action figure.

There is no limit on the size of the boxes and once they are collected from the local dropping spots, they are shipped to Charlotte, North Carolina. From there they are sent to whatever country is on the Samaritan’s Purse list for the year.

“This year they are sending a lot of the boxes to the Pacific Islands,” said area Samaritan’s Purse coordinator Patricia Parsons. “There are over 1,000 islands in the Pacific and they want to reach all of them.”

This is the 27th year that Samaritan’s Purse International has presented Operation Christmas Child. A shoe box donation can still 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.

“People can just go online, click a few buttons, pick out what you want, and then they will send it away for you,” said Parsons. “It’s really easy to do once you get on the site.”

Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. When the gifts are delivered, a representative from Samaritan’s Purse goes into the villages and communities and teaches the people there about Jesus.

“There are actually 1,000 churches planted each year because of the shoe boxes,” said Parsons. “Samaritan’s Purse sends people into these locations to train the people who live there about religion. And then they pass it down to the children and the other adults who live there.”

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