Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes collected for needy children around the world

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot

The first drop off at the Operation Christmas Child central collection site Monday at Antrim Brethren in Christ Church was 483 shoeboxes filled by members of Genesis Church, which meets at Shalom Christian Academy.

A short time later, Diane Martin of Greencastle stopped by the church to get two empty shoeboxes to fill with her daughter, Erin; something they've done together for more than 10 years.

Whether it is 483 or two, the shoeboxes being collected through Monday, Nov. 23, will be among the tens of thousands packed by local residents for needy children around the world.

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Last year, people from Franklin County and part of Cumberland County filled about 34,000 shoeboxes for the Samaritan's Purse project.

Kim Miller, left, and Steve Akers loaded cardboard boxes filled with Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes onto a tractor-trailer at the Antrim Brethren in Christ Church collection site.

The international relief agency, headed by Franklin Graham, has collected and delivered shoebox gifts — filled with school supplies, hygiene items and toys — to children worldwide for more than two decades.

Operation Christmas Child seeks to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world and, together with the local church worldwide, to share the good news of Jesus Christ, according to a news release from the program. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 178 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 160 countries and territories.

Each shoebox holds one "wow" gift, along with smaller toys, school supplies and hygiene items.

Diane Martin planned to put a soccer ball and pump in her box, while the "wow" gift from her now-adult daughter is a backpack.

Operation Christmas Child volunteer Alissa Oaks is shown with Stan Flenner, central dropoff coordinator, at Antrim Brethren in Christ Church.

"It's a great ministry. It's the only thing some of these kids every get," said Stan Flenner, the new coordinator for the Antrim BIC central collection site. Flenner and his wife, Eileen, packed shoeboxes as a family when their daughters, Gail and Melanie, were young. Melanie (Flenner) Ott and her daughters, Jocelyn and Cara, will be among about 50-some people volunteering this week.

"I'm passionate about kids so I said I'd help out," Flenner said.

In addition to Antrim BIC, shoeboxes can be dropped off at five other locations in Franklin County: Ebenezer Church, Greencastle; Calvary Assembly of God, Waynesboro; and Chambersburg Mennonite Church, Mount Pleasant United Brethren Church and New Guilford Brethren in Christ Church, all of Chambersburg.

Antrim BIC and Chambersburg Mennonite Church are both central collection sites, where shoeboxes are placed in large cardboard boxes, labeled and loaded on trucks to be taken to Baltimore for shipment. Each cardboard box holds about 15 shoeboxes.

"I like helping people out and doing projects like this," said Alissa Oaks, who helped arrange the cardboard boxes Monday evening as her sons, Brandon, 7, and Blake, 4, sat under a nearby table playing on their tablets. Her husband, Brian, also signed up to help later in the week.

There is still time to pack a shoebox or two, as the collection continues daily through Monday.

The drop-off process has been modified in response to COVID-19. People are met at their vehicles by volunteers in personal protective equipment.

Samaritan's Purse also offers an option to virtually pack a shoebox gift.

For more information, including how to pack a shoebox and the hours drop-off sites are open, visit: