This holiday season, members of Eastern Hills Community Church encourage those on the peninsula to stuff stockings in a different way for those less fortunate.
For the third year, Sequim and Port Angeles churchgoers have participated in Operation Christmas Child in which shoeboxes are packed in 13 nations and shipped to children in more than 120 countries suffering from natural disaster, war, terrorism, disease, famine and poverty.
Each box is filled with basic items for hygiene, education and entertainment.
"It's so easy to pack a shoebox that will have a lasting impact on a special child that has probably never received a Christmas gift," said Lori Larson, Operation Christmas Child drop-off site coordinator.
"For us, the excitement of seeing the boxes come in to our drop-off point never wears off."
250 more boxes
In 2008, the Sequim-area contributed 753 shoeboxes to the effort. This year, organizers hope to collect 1,000 shoeboxes locally.
"Every single box, no matter how full or empty, is going to be appreciated," said Bob Larson, Operation Christmas Child coordinator.
Organizers have found hard candy tends to be the most valuable items to children.
"They value it so much that they hide it and save it through the year," Bob Larson said.
Sequim is a relay center, meaning the items go to Poulsbo before they're sent to an organization center for inspection. Some countries have strict laws about what can and cannot be given to children.
Bible stories, too
If wanted, children can receive a small booklet called "The Greatest Gift of All," containing Bible stories and lessons in most countries' native languages.
Locally, organizers request items be prepackaged in shoeboxes at home or in group locations before being dropped off at Eastern Hills Community.
Items do not need to be expensive.
Drop-off times for national collection week at Eastern Hills Community Church, 91 Savannah Lane, Sequim, are:
• 1-4 p.m. Nov. 16 and 19
• 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 17
• 6-8 p.m. Nov. 18
• 9-11 a.m. Nov. 23
Operation Christmas Child uses tracking technology that allows donors to follow the box to its destination country. To register shoebox gifts and find out what country they will be delivered to, use the EZ Give donation form found at www.samaritanspurse.org.
Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child, a project of international Christian relief and evangelism organization Samaritan's Purse, has delivered more than 69 million gift-filled shoeboxes.
Globally, the organizers' goal is to hand out more than 8 million shoeboxes.
For more information on Operation Christmas Child, call 253-572-1155 or visit www.samaritanspurse.org.
Box it up
Items requested for boxes:
Personal hygiene items
• Toothbrush, toothpaste, washcloth, combs
Basic school supplies
• Pencils, pens, markers, erasers, paper, etc
• Small toys
• Hard candy like lollipops, gum, etc.
T-shirts, sunglasses, watches
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