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‘Christmas Child’ changes lives

By: Loryll Nicolaisen Journal Staff Writer
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Amazing things come in small packages. Local congregations and community members are spending the next few days dumping the loafers, sandals and heels out of the shoe boxes stacked in their closets, the first step in the Operation Christmas Child process. Calvary Chapel Auburn is a regional collection site for the effort, in which shoe boxes are filled with toys and gifts and sent to deserving children throughout the world. The movement is part ministry, part Merry Christmas, and is managed by Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian missionary program providing emergency relief and community development throughout the world. “I tell people for $10 and 10 minutes at the Dollar Store they can do a shoebox,” said Jim Bobst, Calvary Chapel Auburn collection center coordinator. “It equals a changed life.” Basically, those participating in Operation Christmas Child start with an empty shoebox or similarly sized plastic container. Next, determine whether the box is meant for a boy or a girl in one of three age categories: 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14 years old. Fill the box with school supplies, small toys, hygiene items like toothbrushes and bars of soap, and other various items like hard candy, sunglasses or hair clips. Donations of $7 or more for each shoebox help cover shipping and project costs. There are a few things these boxes shouldn’t contain: used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives or military figures; chocolate or food; out-of-date candy; liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; aerosol cans; or breakable items such as glass containers. Collections began Nov. 17 and continue through Monday, Nov. 24 at Calvary Chapel Auburn. As of Tuesday afternoon, volunteers had collected more than 6,000 boxes, Bobst said. “It’s really good. We’d like to process 28,000 this year,” he said. Last year 24,844 boxes came in from the Sacramento region, Bobst said. From Auburn the boxes go to a West Coast processing center in Irvine, where they’re inspected and then shipped to more than 90 countries throughout the world, where local churches then give the boxes to boys and girls. “For many of the children who receive them, it’s the first gift they’ve ever received,” Bobst said. Mark Hall, pastor at Auburn’s First Baptist Church, dropped off a load of boxes Tuesday afternoon. “We have another shipment coming in next week. Usually our congregation pulls together about 100 boxes each year,” he said. This is the fourth year Bobst and his wife have acted as collection center coordinators. “Sometimes the children are given the box and they think that the box is the gift, they don’t realize that the box is full of gifts,” Janet Bobst said. Bobst said she’s always pleased by the response from the community. “In tough economic times it’s just amazing how generous people have been,” she said. The Journal’s Loryll Nicolaisen can be reached at lorylln@goldcountrymedia.com, or comment online at Auburnjournal.com.