Area volunteers are collecting shoebox gifts through Monday as part of the Samaritan’s Purse project’s Operation Christmas Child.

Operation Christmas Child collects and delivers shoebox gifts filled with school supplies, hygiene items and toys to children worldwide. The project teams with local churches across the globe to deliver these boxes with a goal of showing God’s love to children in need, according to Samaritan’s Purse.

“They say one box when it goes overseas will touch 10 people — the child that opens the box, maybe the shoes are too big or too little, they give them to somebody else,” Mike Barber, Northside Christian Center church relations and drop off team leader, said. “They share other things or tell somebody else. They say about six people are affected overseas by every box.”

This year, the locations are offering a curbside drop-off option because of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are two drop-off sites in the area:

  • Northside Christian Center in Carthage, 108 E. Ash St., from noon to 2 p.m. through Friday, Nov. 20; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21 and Monday, Nov. 23; and 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 22.
  • Holly Springs Baptist Church in Garrison, 16928 N. U.S. 59, from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18; 10 a.m. to noon Thursday, Nov. 19 through Saturday, Nov. 21; 10 a.m. to noon Monday, Nov. 23; and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 22.

“It’s going smoothly this year,” said Kathy McGriffin, area coordinator for the Sabine River area covering Gregg, Upshur, Panola, Harrison counties and part of Rusk county.

McGriffin said she has worked at several of the drop-off locations, including First Baptist Church in Longview where volunteers prayed over the gifts collected.

“We have the best area team,” she said of the 15 volunteers in the area. “We are very blessed.”

The Sabine River area collection goal is 15,652 gifts. According to McGriffin, for the first day of collection Monday, 3,469 gifts were collected in the area, which is more than 22 percent of the goal.

Barber said COVID-19 is affecting the annual campaign, noting the Center location is not taking boxes.

“Everybody from Center is being directed to me right now. We only have six in this general area right that are go to Longview, and then from Longview to Dallas,” he said.

There is an option to build a shoebox online at www.samaritanspurse.org for $25 for those who want to use it.

“It’s a really easy way for people who don’t want to get out of the house right now,” McGriffin said, noting COVID concerns.

Donors also can follow a box online and see where in the world the gift is going.

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.

The project’s 2020 goal worldwide is to reach 11 million children in need throughout the next year.

“Kids around the world will have the opportunity to hear the gospel,” volunteer Rachel Stallard said, adding that it’s an opportunity to show children in need that someone loves them.

Barber said the reach was exponential.

“It’s our mission as Christians to introduce Jesus Christ to as many people as we can, and this is the largest outreach ministry in the world,” he said. “This year we’re shooting for 14 million boxes, and if each one of those touches six people, that’s 75 million that could be touched by 14 million boxes.”