Operation Christmas Child collecting in Carson City

A volunteer helps to pack shoeboxes at a Samaritan's Purse distribution center.

A volunteer helps to pack shoeboxes at a Samaritan's Purse distribution center.

Colleen Kennedy, one of Operation Christmas Child’s area coordinators for Northern Nevada and the eastern Sierra, revels in hearing about young first-time gift recipients who never were given so much as a toothbrush as a holiday present.

“We had a team member that went to Uganda and she came back with great stories of kids that never received a gift before and they were unsure what to do,” Kennedy said Friday. “Kids here (in the United States) get gifts and they’re ready to rip them open, and these kids (in other countries) are just taking the time to open them up and they’re looking at everything and going, ‘Wow, I got a toothbrush!’”

Operation Christmas Child’s National Collection Week takes place between Nov. 12 and 19. Local volunteers are seeking to collect 15,058 shoeboxes filled with toys, school supplies and hygiene items to help with the organization’s broader goal of placing a shoebox in the hands of 11 million children worldwide.

Northern Nevada’s goal is up from last year’s fulfillment of 13,844 shoeboxes, and Kennedy is optimistic about the increase.

“We are a steadily growing area,” she said. “We keep adding because there are more dropoff areas. When we came, there were nine. Now, there are 13.”

Word of mouth is helping the cause abundantly and connection to the local churches is a significant part with Samaritan’s Purse at the helm. The nondenominational Christian organization based in Boone, N.C., assumed leadership of OCC in 1993 and since has reached more than 146 million children in more than 100 countries, according to its website, www.samaritanspurse.org.

Locally, volunteers are recruiting others to help provide shoeboxes through fun challenges, and it happens year-round, not just during the holidays, Kennedy said. It helps keep residents cognizant of the need to collect items for children all over the world. Those interested in contributing and preparing boxes also can look for deals when shopping throughout the year as well.

“We were in the Mule Day parade in Bishop (California) this year, and there are other various ways for letting people know, like contacting the media,” Kennedy said. “We’re blessed to be part of a larger team. Facebook is another way to help.”

Carson City-area collection sites include Calvary Chapel, 1635 Clearview Drive, and Life Point, 1095 Stephanie Way, Minden. Other sites are available in Reno, Winnemucca, Fallon, Yerington, Stateline, Quincy, Portola and Susanville. For information on locations, go to www.samaritanspurse.org/occ.

For those who prefer to go online and find gifts based on a child’s age and gender, visit www.samaritanspurse.org/buildonline.

“We’d love to see lots of people filling shoeboxes and to bless kids around the world,” Kennedy said.


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