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Spiritual spotlight

Operation Christmas Child helps children's holidays worldwide

Sequim Gazette staff

Members of Eastern Hills Community Church are joining again with Operation Christmas Child to help children around the world.

Bob and Lori Larson are coordinating the effort for a fourth year and hope to ship out at least 950 shoeboxes filled with school supplies, toys and personal items.

Organizers say hard candy is popular with children and in some countries it's so treasured they'll save it through the year.

Items can be simple and not expensive. Bob Larson said each box is appreciated no matter what's in it.

Last year Sequim residents gave 876 shoeboxes to Operation Christmas Child.

Local residents, churches and nonprofit groups bring filled boxes to Eastern Hills from Nov. 15-22.

Donated boxes are delivered to Poulsbo, then sent to an organization center for inspection because some countries have laws about what can and cannot be given to children.

Restricted items include used and damaged items, war-like toys, chocolate, expired candy, liquids and breakable items.

Shoeboxes are packed and shipped to more than 100 countries for children suffering from natural disasters, war, terrorism, disease, famine and poverty. They are delivered by sea containers, trucks, trains, airplanes, boats, camels and dog sleds.

Operation Christmas Child uses tracking technology that allows donors to follow the box to its destination country. To register shoebox gifts and find out what country they are delivered to, use the EZ Give donation form found at www.samaritanspurse.org.

If requested, a small booklet called "The Greatest Gift of All," containing Bible stories and lessons in most countries' native languages can be included in the box.

The organizers' goal is to hand out more than 8 million shoeboxes.

Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child, a project of international Christian relief and evangelism organization Samaritan's Purse, headed by Franklin Graham, has delivered more than 77 million gift-filled shoe boxes to children in some 130 countries.

For more information on Operation Christmas Child, call 800-353-5949 or visit www.samaritans purse.org.

Box filling suggestions:

? Use an empty shoe box or a plastic container of similar size and wrap the top and bottom separately in festive paper

? Determine if the present is for a boy or girl and for ages 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14

? Fill with gifts (see suggested items)

? Include a $7 donation to help with shipping costs or donate online at www.samaritans purse.org

? Drop off filled box, held closed with a rubber band, at Eastern Hills Community Church

Operation

Christmas Child box collection times

Eastern Hills Community Church, 81 Savannah Lane, Sequim, Nov. 15-22

? 1-4 p.m.

Monday, Nov. 15

Wednesday-Friday

? 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Tuesday, Saturday-Sunday,

? 9-11 a.m.

Monday, Nov. 22

Suggested items

? Small toys: cars, balls, stuffed animals, musical instruments, toys that light up (with extra batteries,) etc.

? Hygiene items: toothbrush, toothpaste, washcloth, comb, etc.

? School supplies: pencils, pens, markers, erasers, paper, etc.

? Other: flashlights, hard candy (such as

lollypops), T-shirts, sunglasses, etc.

? A personal note: Enclose a note to the child and a photo of yourself or your family. If you include your name and address, the child might write back.

Community Events, April 2014

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