DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR
MARBLE FALLS — The kindergarten students lined up with middle school youths by their sides as they approached the table. Each kindergartener clutched a red-and-green decorated shoebox.
As each pair of students worked their way down the table, the older one guided the younger one in what to put in the box.
“It’s a really incredible mission project for our younger students,” said Sandra Phelps, the headmaster and principal of First Baptist Christian School of Marble Falls. “The older kids, they can go places and do mission work, but this project, it’s an all-age mission project.”
The students are packing boxes for the annual Operation Christmas Child project sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse. Across the country, and even around the world, people have gathered specific items to put in shoeboxes to be shipped to children in economically struggling countries.
“We gather the gifts and fill the shoeboxes that go to many, many poor children around the world,” said Karrie Byrd, one of the local organizers. Inside the box, the receiving child finds toys, candy, toiletries and school supplies.
As the children open the boxes, Byrd said people might be surprised at what brings them the greatest joy.
“You would think it would be the toys or the candy, but it’s the school supplies,” she said. “For many of these children, they can’t go to school because they don’t have things like paper and pencils. Those school supplies in the box mean they can go to school.”
Organizations and individuals can drop off boxes Nov. 20-25 at First Baptist Church, 501 12th St. in Marble Falls. Drop-off times are 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Nov. 20-22, 10-11 a.m. Nov. 23, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 24 and 8:30-9:30 a.m. Nov. 25. People also can go to www.samaritanspurse.org and pack one online.
Byrd collects and builds shoeboxes with her grandchildren as well as helps during the school’s project.
“I want my grandchildren to learn the importance of giving,” she said about their involvement with Operation Christmas Child. “In this country, we are so blessed, but I want them to understand that, in some countries, there are children who can’t go to school because they don’t have even basic school supplies. I want my grandchildren to understand that they can do something about it.”
It all starts with a simple shoebox and some rather inexpensive items.
The project isn’t reserved for First Baptist Christian School students. Byrd said several area churches and youth organizations are gathering materials and assembling boxes.
Individuals, businesses and families also can get involved. Go to www.samaritanspurse.org and click on the “Reach One More Child” logo to learn how to assemble a box.
First Baptist Church of Marble Falls, 501 12th St., is a drop-off location for the boxes. Organizations and individuals can drop off boxes Nov. 20-25. Drop-off times are 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Nov. 20-22, 10-11 a.m. Nov. 23, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 24 and 8:30-9:30 a.m. Nov. 25.
People who can’t get a box together also can go through www.samaritanspurse.org and pack one online. By following some basic instructions, an individual can select gift items and even add a personal letter and a photo. Samaritan’s Purse will pack and ship it.
According to Samaritan’s Purse, since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has provided shoeboxes stuffed with toys, candy and school supplies to more than 100 million boys and girls in more than 130 countries.
“It’s an easy and simple way to make a big difference in a child’s life,” Byrd said.