Arlington and Marysville will again join a number of Snohomish County sites in hosting drop-off centers for the gift-filled shoeboxes of “Operation Christmas Child” from Nov. 18-25.
The Atonement Free Lutheran Church, located at 6905 172nd St. NE in Arlington, will open to serve as a collection site for the Christmas gift shoeboxes from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 18, through Saturday, Nov. 23, as well as from noon to 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 24, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 25.
The Amen! Christian Bookstore, located at 318 State Ave. in Marysville, will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Nov. 18-23, from noon to 3 p.m. on Nov. 24, and from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 25.
“Last year, we collected 8,470 shoeboxes in Snohomish County,” said Dennis Hoppe, who helps coordinate the annual event for the region. “Marysville and Arlington collected more than 1,500 of those shoeboxes. This year, we’re hoping for 10,000 or more shoeboxes from the county.”
Hoppe originally got involved in Operation Christmas Child to connect with needy children around the world, not only through the toys, school supplies and hygiene items that each shoebox is packed with, but also through the notes of encouragement that are included and addressed to the children themselves.
“The pure joy you see on the faces of the children, as they open their shoeboxes, is something that’s hard to put into words,” Hoppe said. “It’s a very intense feeling of happiness. I knew I wanted to be part of it.”
Hoppe explained that Operation Christmas Child runs on donations and volunteer labor, and while he acknowledged that the logistics can be challenging, he nonetheless noted the numbers of volunteers who make an extra effort to get involved each year.
“When you get to watch families come into collection centers, to drop off the shoeboxes that they filled together, and you listen to children talk about how much fun they had getting to shop for the shoeboxes and help fill them, it can bring tears to your eyes,” Hoppe said. “Knowing how happy these shoeboxes are going to make some children is beyond being touched or moved by the experience. Some of these children have never received a gift in their lives. One young girl, who received a shoebox when she was little, told us it was the first time she’d had her own toothbrush, that she didn’t have to share with the other kids in her orphanage.”
Though these gift shoeboxes often travel thousands of miles, Operation Christmas Child offers a way for participants to follow their boxes, by using the donation forms found at http://samaritanspurse.org. Donors will receive emails telling them the countries where their shoeboxes are delivered.
For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, call 253-572-1155 or log onto http://samaritanspurse.org.
Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 100 million shoebox gifts to suffering children in more than 100 countries since 1993. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, Operation Christmas Child hopes to collect another 9.8 million gift-filled shoeboxes in 2013. Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham.