For the past 27 years, Operation Christmas Child has been collecting shoe boxes filled with hope for the children of the world.

Country Oaks Baptist Church will again serve as a collection site for Operation Christmas Child, said to be the world's largest Christmas project of its kind. Operation Christmas Child is an effort of Samaritan's Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization that has delivered millions of shoeboxes filled with gifts.

Operation Christmas Child first started in war-torn Bosnia in 1993. It has since expanded globally, reaching 114 countries. The Samaritan's Purse project partners with local churches across the globe to deliver these tangible expressions of God's love to children affected by war, disease, disaster, poverty and famine. For many of these children, it will be the first gift they have ever received.

"There is a lot of hope that is needed with the pandemic. Our children really need additional help this year, and that shoebox brings that hope to them," said Jennifer Sharrer, area coordinator of Operation Christmas Child for Kern County.

Each year during National Collection Week, Samaritan's Purse collects the shoeboxes from more than 4,000 drop-off sites, or Relay Centers, including Country Oaks Baptist Church, located at 20915 Schout Road. National Collection Week will be held from Nov. 16 through 23. 

Tehachapi residents, families, churches and organizations can help spread the joy to millions of children around the world by donating shoeboxes with personal items, such as toys, school supplies, hygiene items and notes of encouragement.

Last year, Tehachapians collected 1,708 boxes.

Last year, Samaritan's Purse collected more than 14,467 shoeboxes in Kern County, and over 9 million worldwide. This year, Samaritan's Purse hopes to collect 11 million shoeboxes.

“In the midst of the pandemic, the needs are greater than ever before,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse. “Children around the world need to know that God loves them and there is hope. A simple shoebox gift opens the door to share about the true hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ."

With a computer or mobile device, anyone can conveniently pack a personalized Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift on the Samaritan’s Purse website. Go to samaritanspurse.org/occ to select toys and gift items, write a note of encouragement and “pack” them in a shoebox. These gifts of hope will go to children in some of the hardest-to-reach countries.

Said Sharrer, "It is really important that we continue to share the message that, despite what we are going through, there is a gift for each of us. These shoe boxes give us an opportunity to share these gifts."

Using special tracking technology, participants can follow their box to discover where in the world their gift is delivered by using the donation form found at samaritanspurse.org/occ.

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