Butler County’s ‘Operation Christmas Child’ helping kids around the world

Children in Tanzania were delighted by gifts this summer when Sylvia Kenniv and others from Operation Christmas Child delivered shoeboxes from the program. PROVIDED
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Children in Tanzania were delighted by gifts this summer when Sylvia Kenniv and others from Operation Christmas Child delivered shoeboxes from the program. PROVIDED

Operation Christmas Child, which gives gifts to children around the world, will be collecting shoeboxes from Monday through Nov. 25 at Butler County locations.

People should pick a regular-sized shoebox and put in some school supplies, hygiene items and fun toys for children ages 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14, and should suggest whether the box contains items for a boy or girl. They then will be prepared for international shipping, to children in more than 100 countries.

“Nearly 5,000 drop-off locations across the United States will open up to collect shoebox gifts that have been packed year-round by individuals, families, teens, a whole bunch of people,” said Lucas Zellers of Samaritan’s Purse, which organizes Operation Christmas Child.

People are free to pack a shoebox starting now, if they’d like.

“It doesn’t have to break the bank or reinvent the wheel here,” Zellers said. “One of the things we like to encourage is that people put in a ‘wow’ item, something that when a child opens the box, the first thing they see is something impactful.”

An example is a deflated soccer ball that is shipped with a pump.

“That’s the kind of thing that gets a lot of mileage, not just for that child, but for everybody around them — we’re able to reach whole communities with these gifts,” he said.

Distribution events often have more than 100 children present at a time. They are not expected to arrive at Christmas, but in the early months 0f 2020.

Désiré Nana, a 25-year-old student in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was 8 in Burkina Faso, West Africa, when he received a package.

“It was my first gift ever, and it meant a lot to me. It was a blessing for me,” he told this news outlet last year.

Explore HERE’S THAT STORY: Man who got gift as child in Africa spreads word about Operation Christmas Child

Shoebox packers shouldn’t include anything that would endanger the box or the child, or that wouldn’t survive a months-long trip, such as food, liquid, glass items, lotion, candy, or toothpaste (which can cause customs trouble).

The nearest drop-off locations are:

• First Baptist Church, 1501 Pyramid Hill Boulevard, Hamilton

• Cobblestone Community Church, 4191 Kehr Road, Oxford

• Bethany United Methodist Church, 6388 Cincinnati Dayton Road, Liberty Twp.

• New Covenant Church, 4340 Union Road, Middletown (Franklin)

• Lakota Hills Baptist Church, 6300 Tylersville Road, West Chester

For information about drop-off times at each location, as well as more information about the program, go to www.samaritanspurse.org.

Warren County resident Sylvia Kenniv went to Tanzania in June to distribute shoeboxes to children. She oversees four counties — Butler, Warren, Hamilton and Clermont — and said officals hope to collect 32,000 shoeboxes.

“There’s just been a lot of interest this year, so we’re really hoping we reach our goal and beyond,” she said. “It’s always very exciting when you see other people getting excited about something that you love also.”

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