The Lee’s Summit community this week is filling thousands of shoe boxes with items like school supplies, toys, and a letter of encouragement to ship to children all over the world.
Several churches and individuals are taking part in the annual Operation Christmas Child, a charity run by Samaritan’s Purse, led by Franklin Graham, evangelist Billy Graham’s son.
“The gifts go to children who probably have never received a Christmas present, ever,” said Jane Prichett, a member of First Baptist Church of Lee’s Summit who helps coordinate the event locally.
The regional goal for show box gifts is 523,500, she said.
The Baptist Church is a relay center where Lee’s Summit residents and other communities can bring the shoe boxes, which are delivered to a regional center for Samaritan’s Purse and eventually shipped overseas.
The boxes go to more than 100 countries on six continents.
The last couple of years it has collected nearly 2,200 boxes in Lee’s Summit. The number had been higher, but other area relay centers have opened.
Churches that contribute to the items through the relay center include the Woods Chapel United Methodist Church, Eagle Creek Church, Lee’s Summit Community Church, The Fellowship of Greenwood, and others from Blue Springs, Pleasant Hill and farther away, Prichett said.
She said many of the children, if they don’t have basic school supplies, won’t be allowed to go to their schools. And the packages often help more than one person, because the children share with their families, she said.
People are asked to fill the boxes with school supplies, toys, toiletries, hard candy and a letter of encouragement. Packing instructions and other information is available at www.samaritanspurse.org/occ.
The church is accepting the boxes daily, including 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 20-21; 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 22-23; noon to 2 p.m. Nov. 24 and 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 25.
“It’s a way to help (the children) in a tangible way with things they need, but also a way for us to let them know Jesus loves them,” Pritchett said.