I can’t believe it’s that time again, but it’s time to start thinking about Operation Christmas Child (OCC) for 2017.
You may remember that an incredible 354 boxes were collected from BMC last year. This contributed towards a total of over 850,000 being exported from the UK to 17 countries in Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, via 65 lorries and 30 containers. Globally, Samaritan’s Purse collected a phenomal 11,485,662 boxes!
You may also remember that a group from BMC went to the warehouse to follow the journey of the boxes last year, which was a very interesting exercise. One of the first processes at the warehouse is the checking of all contents to ensure they do not contain any prohibited items. With this in mind, may I remind you again what can – and can’t – go into the boxes, please?
The Samaritan’s Purse website makes the following suggestions for suitable items to include in the boxes:-
Something with a ‘WOW’ factor, i.e. items that children will immediately embrace, such as dolls or stuffed toys (which must be new and must bear a CE label), toy trucks, deflated football with pump, musical instrument, ball, yo-yo, skipping rope, small puzzles, etc.
Pens, pencils & sharpeners, crayons or felt pens, stamps & ink-pad sets, writing-pads or notebooks & paper, solar calculators, colouring & picture books etc.
Toothbrush and toothpaste, bars of wrapped soap, comb or hairbrush, flannel.
Hat, cap, gloves or scarf (no socks, please), sunglasses, hair accessories, jewellery set, wind-up torch, wrapped sweets (best-before date must be at least March 2018). NB Mini-bags, such as Haribos, Skittles, etc are not suitable if they do not show the best before-date.
The website shows the following items must NOT be included:-
Used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, play-soldiers or knives; chocolate or other food items; liquids or lotions of any type including bubbles; medicines; hand-made or knitted stuffed toys (as they don’t bear a CE-label); anything of a political, racial or religious nature; sharp objects; glass containers, mirrors or fragile items; playing cards of the 4-suit variety; clothing other than as listed above.
Following the take-up last year, I propose to sell some small items again for people to purchase for inclusion in the boxes. I will also be selling the flat-packed boxes again (at a cost of 75p) in the Welcome area after the Sunday morning services. These boxes are doubly beneficial – a) they do not need covering and b) they will pack into the large boxes at the warehouse more easily. I propose to start selling on Sunday 8th October.
I know some people wish to hand-knit items for packing, so here is the link to some knitting patterns (hats, scarves, gloves, finger-puppets, etc.) on the Samaritan’s Purse website www.samaritans-purse.org.uk/operation-christmas-child-knitting/ . I will print some patterns off and bring them to church on the dates mentioned below for people to collect.
If you would prefer to make a financial contribution to this worthwhile appeal then I can assure you it will be just as gratefully received. The website indicates the transportation-cost of each box has increased to £5.00 this year, but any contribution would be appreciated. If you could donate on line at www.samaritans-purse.org.uk this would make it a lot easier and safer and saves OCC money too. If you would like me to do that for you, please just ask. (If you do donate online, there is a facility for you to find out to which country your shoebox will be delivered.)
For anyone whose time is limited, another initiative this year is to ‘Build a Shoebox online at Shoebox World’. You still have an element of choice with the gifts you send, but for a suggested donation of £15 + £3 shipping per box, you can have it all done for you, with the facility to add a personal letter and/or photo if you wish. For more details, see https://shoeboxworld.co.uk/shoeboxworld/?_ga=2.73791954.1774400050.1505119452-226213979.1503751511
The final date for collection of the boxes is Sunday 5th November 2017.
We pray for another wonderful opportunity to brighten the lives of so many children to show them they are surrounded by God’s love and letting them know they are not forgotten. It's amazing what a simple gift-filled shoebox can do for a child in need.
It would be fantastic if we could match last year’s total!
If you have any queries at all, please do not hesitate to ask.