As a program of Samaritan's Purse, which began in 1991, and is now headed by Franklin Graham, the Operation Christmas Child caused a flurry of activity during November in Del Norte County and the Brookings/Harbor area.
Hundreds of people joined others across America in filling shoeboxes with school supplies, hygiene items, clothing and toys as Christmas gifts for thousands of children all over the world who may have never before received a gift.
There were many individuals who participated along with 15 local churches in filling the shoeboxes.
The filled and wrapped shoeboxes were then taken to the local relay center at the Pelican Bay Evangelical Church on Blueberry Lane the week before Thanksgiving. There, an eight-person crew put from 14 to 22 shoeboxes into each larger carton and sealed them. At the end of the week they trucked them over to the collection center in Central Point, Ore., for processing.
After processing, the shoeboxes were then divided into cartons according to the intended age group and whether they were for a boy or a girl. They were then ready to be shipped to one of the several pre-chosen locations all over the world to be given to the children at those sites.
When the shoeboxes are handed out, each child is offered the opportunity to attend a 12-week Bible Study called "The Greatest Gift of All." At the end of the 12-week session, the child is given a certificate of completion and a New Testament in his or her own language.
"The Greatest Gift" was written with the help of the Billy Graham Association, which is now also headed by Franklin Graham since his father is slowing down a bit at the age of 94.
Some people are already gathering items for the shoeboxes in 2013. They feel they do not notice a few dollars a month for the purchase of the items as they would if bought all at once next November. When asked whether this is the only Christmas project in which they are involved, the answer came, "No, we participate in the community programs as well so our local children may benefit."
The Christmas spirit seems to be contagious and spreads all over the world.