‘Shoebox’ gifts spread joy to poor children around the world
Brenda Chiasson and Diane Powell fill a shoebox with goodies. The shoeboxes will be collected from Nov. 15-22 and shipped to children around the world.
For several years, West St. Charles Baptist Church in Boutte has been a part of Operation Christmas Child, which sends shoebox gifts to more than 8 million children in 100 countries. The children that receive these gifts are the ones who need them the most, since they all live in areas that are suffering from natural disaster, war, terrorism, disease, famine and poverty.
Last year, the Boutte church collected and shipped more than 400 shoeboxes filled with goodies. This year, they hope to send more than 450.
“It’s really a great project,” Deana Scognamillo, secretary for West St. Charles Baptist Church, said. “We have already collected a lot of shoeboxes this year, and we have plenty of boxes that can be picked up, filled with goodies, then dropped back off to be shipped.”
The shoe boxes are already decorated in Christmas attire and residents can choose whether they want to send the box to a boy or girl, and can pick from a range of ages that start at 2 and go to 14.
Operation Christmas Child prefers that the boxes are filled with school supplies, small toys, hygiene items, hard candy and a letter of encouragement.
“Hygiene items are really important because a lot of these children don’t have much,” Scognamillo said. “Other popular items are small Etch-A-Sketches, teddy bears, jewelry and anything that lights up and flashes.
“Most of them haven’t seen toys that light up before, so it’s a big treat for them.”
Scognamillo said that Operation Christmas Child is unique because the children get several smaller gifts as opposed to one gift.
“I know they are really happy when they open the box up and see all these different things inside,” she said.
Scognamillo also suggests sending a picture of the gift giver and their family to the children so that they can see where the gift came from.
Residents can also follow their box as it is brought to its destination country, where it will be hand delivered to a child in need. To get to its destination country, the shoebox will travel by whatever means necessary, including trucks, trains, airplanes, boats, camels and even dog sleds.
Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child, which is headed by Franklin Graham, has delivered more than 77 million gift-filled shoeboxes to needy children in 130 countries.
This year, the items will be collected from Nov. 15-22.
To pick up or drop off a shoebox, visit West St. Charles Baptist Church located at 13099 Hwy. 90 in Boutte. Church office hours are from Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
The phone number is (985) 785-0584.
Organizers ask that $7 also be given to help with shipping and handling.
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