EVANSTON — Local churches and other organizations joined forces to help make the holidays a little brighter for children in developing countries through Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian international relief organization. Evanston’s Calvary Chapel took the lead in collecting donations to send shoeboxes to children around the world.
Judy Jones, local coordinator of the project, said the shoeboxes would be sent to kids between the ages of 2 and 14. Each shoebox is filled with personal hygiene items, school supplies and a toy of some sort for kids in need.
Jones said the shoeboxes collected in Evanston this year would be heading to children in Mexico who were affected by the recent earthquake and to those in the Caribbean and Puerto Rico affected by hurricanes.
During the third week of November each year, more than 5000 drop-off locations throughout the United States collect shoebox donations to send to more than 100 countries, according to the Operation Christmas Child website. Jones said the goal this year was to distribute 12 million shoeboxes.
Several local churches contributed filled shoeboxes this year, said Jones, including Calvary Chapel, Aspen Grove, Evanston Alliance, Crossroads Newlife Fellowship and Church of the Nazarene. The Evanston Civic Orchestra and Chorus also donated, along with individual donations.
Last year the Evanston drive collected 132 shoeboxes, and this year that total more than doubled to 312. Due to the success of the drive, a larger truck was necessary to get them all to Green River to load on an 18-wheeler for shipment to Aurora, Colorado. Uinta Realty came to the rescue and donated the use of a moving van.
Shipping so many boxes also requires lots of postage, and Jody’s Diner stepped up with a financial donation to help out with shipping costs.
Jones said the 18-wheeler departing from Green River to head to Colorado carried 2,995 shoeboxes from Evanston, Lyman, Green River, Star Valley and Kemmerer, bound for shipment all over the world.
Jones said she was really excited with the way the community had come together to donate to those in need. “This isn’t a denominational thing,” she said. “It’s a people care thing.”