Operation Christmas Child

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Bossier collects boxes for children across the world

Many children don’t know what it’s like to wake up on Christmas morning and find presents under the tree. However, locals are working to solve this.

Thanks to Operation Christmas Child, donations of gift-filled shoeboxes will reach children all across the world with toys, food, hygiene products and more.

“This is the largest children’s Christmas ministry in the world, and very exciting to work with as volunteers,” said Pasty Starks, Bossier City collection center coordinator.

Operation Christmas Child has been collecting and delivering these gift-filled shoeboxes since 1993. This year, the agency is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and hoping to collect 9.8 million shoebox gifts.

First Baptist Church of Bossier City is the collection center for the local area. Seven relay centers collect filled shoe boxes and bring them to the collection center during Collection Week.

“Individuals, civic groups, churches, and various other organizations also bring filled boxes to the collection center. We then carton and ship them to the processing center designated by OCC for final processing before being sent to over 100 countries,” said Starks.

The week of Nov. 18-25, residents can drop off their donations from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, and 1-5 p.m. on Sunday. The drop off location is Fellowship Hall of First Bossier, located on the east side of the campus.

“During Collection Week, volunteers come and help with packing the cartons, greeting people, and assisting donor churches and individuals with their boxes,” said Starks.

A shoebox gift consists of an empty shoebox filled with gifts and toys, school supplies, hygiene items and notes of encouragement. Individuals can also build a box online by going to samaritanspurse.org. Donors are able to track their box during its travel and will receive an email telling the country where it was delivered.

These shoebox gifts are collected in the United States, Australia, Austria, Canada, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, and in the United Kingdom, with more than 500,000 volunteers worldwide.

In the United States alone, 100,000 volunteers are involved in collecting, shipping, and distributing these gifts.

In Louisiana, collection sites are also located in Coushatta, Grand Cane, Many, Minden, Natchitoches, and Vivian.

Anyone interested in volunteering can contact First Bossier at 746-7940.

For more information on Operation Christmas Child, call the national number at 1-800-809-3882 or visit samaritanspurse.org.