Operation Christmas Child has Forest Lake goal of 1,900 gifts for needy children

Forest Lake area residents are packing joy into shoeboxes for needy children around the world.

At Operation Christmas Child, one person can fill one shoebox with small toys, school supplies, personal hygiene items and a note of encouragement for one child who really needs them.

If you’re wondering what to buy for the relatively wealthy Americans on your Christmas list, who already have everything they need and more, this may be something you really need, too.

All the boxes are collected in one week in November at a local collection site and then shipped to their destinations by Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham.

Then the gifts are delivered using whatever means necessary, including trucks, trains, boats, bikes, even elephants.

Samaritan’s Purse says that for many children, this will be the first gift they have ever received.

To pay for shipping costs, persons bringing a box are asked to include a $7 donation.

This year the national collection week is Monday, Nov. 18 to Monday, Nov. 25. The local collection site is Crossroads Covenant Evangelical Church, at the intersection of West Broadway Avenue and Notre Dame Street in Columbus.

Darla Haseltine and her volunteers expect to receive 1,900 gift-filled shoeboxes this year.

If you want to donate a box, here’s what to do:

Find an empty cardboard or plastic shoebox of average size.

Decide whether your gift will be for a boy or a girl, and choose an age category: 2 to 4, 5 to 9, or 10 to 14 years.

Fill the box with gifts appropriate for the age and sex you selected. Dolls, toy trucks, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, jump ropes and balls are good toys to include. A soccer ball can be deflated to fit in the box.

School supplies can include pens, pencils and sharpeners, crayons or markers, stamps and ink pad sets, writing pads or paper, solar calculators, coloring and picture books.

You might include a toothbrush, comb, t-shirt, socks, baseball caps, sunglasses or hair clips.

Make the gift more personal by enclosing a note to the child and a photo of yourself or your family. If you include your name and address, the child may write back.

If you wrap the box, be sure to wrap the lid separately.

Include the $7 in the box. Put a rubber band around the closed box.

When you take the gift to Crossroads, fill out a label telling what age and sex the box is intended for.

You can also download and print label at samaritanspurse.org. Using the website donation form, you can follow the box. Donors will receive an email telling the country where their shoeboxes are delivered.

For more information call Darla Haseltine at 651-464-2195 or e-mail [email protected]

Collection hours

Monday to Friday, Nov. 18-22: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 23-24: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Monday, Nov. 25: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.