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Austintown church serves as Operation Christmas Child drop-off site

October 23, 2019
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

In a few weeks, Operation Christmas Child (OCC) will kick off as some area churches serve as collection sites for the shoeboxes that will be delivered to over 100 countries around the globe.

Operation Christmas Child is a program through Samaritan's Purse whose aim it is to reach out to the poor and needy children around the globe. The program is meant to deliver a gift of toys, school supplies and personal items, along with a message to brighten a child's day.

"Churches of all denominations participate in Operation Christmas Child, whether it's by packing shoeboxes, hosting packing parties, or serving as a drop off location," said Lucas Zellers from Samaritan's Purse. "Volunteers are organized into more than 400 local area teams around the U.S., who organize and execute collection in their area."

Locally, several churches are participating as drop-off-collection sites this year. They are among the estimated 5,000 locations throughout the U.S. One of those local sites is Tabernacle Evangelical Presbyterian Church, 2432 S Raccoon Road in Austintown. The church will be accepting donated shoeboxes the week starting Nov. 18.

"We have 19 collection centers throughout our NE Ohio area which encompasses Ashtabula, Colulmbiana, Mahoning, Portage, and Trumbull counties," said Dr Rudy Braydich, OCC Northeast Ohio Area Team coordinator. "Our five county area last year shipped 20,609 shoe boxes. Our goal this year is 25,000."

Churches, businesses, community groups and individuals pack shoeboxes and bring them to the collection center closest to them. The web site has a list of items needed for the boxes. The list includes a "wow item" such as a ball and air pump or a stuffed animal. Also on the list is a personal note, family photo, and a return address. Sometimes a child will want to send a thank you note to the donor if they have the means to do so.

"The person packing the shoebox has the option of placing a card, photo, or personal note (all three if they wish)," Braydich said. "We have had classrooms draw pictures and sign banners, which are shipped as well to the recipients."

Anyone can also drop items to be included in the boxes or cash to cover the cost of shipping, which is $9 per box. That payment can also be made online by visiting

Braydich said the collection sites usually find out at the beginning of the year where the shoeboxes of the area went to. Donors who pay the $9 fee online can also track their shoebox by printing a bar coded label from the Samaritan's Purse website, which enables tracking to its final destination. The $9 donation also provides for collection, processing, shipping, training local churches, the Ministry Partner Guide, and The Greatest Gift Gospel booklets that accompany shoebox gifts.

As to the final delivery, Braydich said it can be interesting.

"Just like we have a national volunteer network here in the states to collect the shoeboxes, there is an international volunteer network which gets the shoeboxes to the distribution areas," Braydich said. "Some areas are very remote and the shoeboxes are transported by elephant, camel, canoes, rafts, water buffalo, even bicycles."

Shoebox gifts collected at the area drop off locations will be gathered at the team's"central" drop off location, Tabernacle Evangelical Presbyterian Church [in Austintown], before being shipped to one of eight processing centers to be prepared for overseas shipment.

Collection dates for Tabernacle Evangelical Presbyterian Church are as follows:

Mon, Nov. 18: 12 to 6 p.m.

Tue, Nov. 19: 10: a.m. to 4 p.m.

Wed, Nov. 20: 10: a.m. to 4 p.m.

Thu, Nov. 21: 2 to 8 p.m.

Fri, Nov. 22: 11 am to 6 p.m.

Sat, Nov. 23: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sun, Nov. 24: 12 to 4 p.m.

Mon, Nov. 25: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.



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