Operation Christmas Child kicks off National Collection Week

The last day to donate is Monday, Nov. 23.
Published: Nov. 16, 2020 at 5:00 PM CST
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - A way for local families, businesses, organizations and churches to give to those in need and spread the gospel since 1993, Samaritans Purse Project: Operation Christmas Child.

“I cannot go overseas to tell people about Jesus, but my box can,” Shannon McGonegal, Collection Center Coordinator at Heritage Baptist Church said.

Churches around the area have been filling shoeboxes to be sent to children around the world. This week those boxes are being brought to collection points in Dothan and Ozark. Several hundred have already been collected, but this year looks a little different due to COVID-19.

The collection will be contactless by being curbside drop-off to prevent the spread of the virus.

"These boxes go around the world and are placed into the hands of children that literally have never received a present, have never gotten a Christmas present and from there we’re able to share with those children and their families about how much God loves them and that He wants to have a relationship with them,” Michael Lawson, Associate Pastor of Mount Gilead Baptist Church, said.

Donors are to follow the arrows outside of the drop off locations to donate.

"We are masked up, gloved up, hand sanitizer, social distancing,” McGonegal said.

Operation Christmas Child has reached more than 160 countries and territories over the years, but that would not be possible without the donors.

"It’s a way for you to make a difference in the lives of a families and children you would never meet,” Lawson said.

There are 14 drop off locations in the Wiregrass, click here to view operating times and locations.

"You can sit in your car, pop your trunk and any of the drop off locations can help you out,” Lawson said.

Items that some may see as necessities, others see as a luxury.

"These kids are looking for school supplies, wash cloths, soap, a toy, a soccer ball,” McGonegal said.

It is advised to avoid items that might melt or leak, to prevent from ruining other gifts.

"These kids just light up like, kids on Christmas, they just light up, they are so thankful. A lot of them are crying just tears of joy” McGonegal said.

The deadline to donate is Monday, November 23. Donations can also be done online.

"Just pack them and bring them,” McGonegal said.

The Wiregrass strives to meet their goal of collecting 30,000 boxes to go toward the national goal of reaching 11 million children.

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