Operation Christmas Child kick-off to be held Saturday
The Aiken-area chapter of an international movement that supplies Christmas gifts to millions of underprivileged children across the world is gearing up for the 2011 Operation Christmas Child program.Millbrook Baptist Church is facilitating the local efforts of several area churches who work each year to collect donations. These donations eventually end up as gift-wrapped shoe boxes that travel to needy children throughout the world.On Saturday, coordinators will be at Millbrook Baptist Church to host the kick-off event. All Aiken-area churches are invited to attend and learn everything they need to know about participating in the program.Operation Christmas Child was started in 1993 by the international Christian relief and evangelism organization, Samaritan's Purse, headed by Franklin Graham.Saturday's kick-off event allows area churches to get all of the updated information from last year, and to figure out a goal for this year, said Shirley McBride, media relations person for the Aiken-area team.•We just want to get them encouraged,• McBride said. •We'll have all the supplies needed there, and they can go back completely ready to kick it off at their church. We'll take them through the whole process of just how many people are involved with getting one shoebox into the hands of a needy child.•Supplies for participating churches include shoeboxes, bulletin inserts, explanatory brochures and DVDs with testimonials from both missionaries who have delivered shoeboxes as well as children who have received them.The goal for 2011 is to send off 600,000 boxes from North and South Carolina to contribute for a total of 8.5 million boxes to be distributed throughout the world.After being assembled and sorted at a processing facility, the boxes are then transported to selected countries in many different ways, McBride said.•From the processing center it gets shipped somewhere - they said these things have traveled by elephants even,• she said. •Just to get them into the hands of a pastor and church members in other countries who then finally get the box into the hands of a needy child.•National collection week doesn't begin until Nov. 14, but McBride said that those who wish to donate shoebox gifts can drop them off to a collection box at Aiken's First Baptist Church. As soon as additional participating churches are announced, those churches will serve as drop-off locations as well.Meltable candies such as chocolate are not permitted to be packaged due to lengthy traveling; also, toys that promote war and violence such as guns and toy grenades are also prohibited.In the case of an inappropriate item, McBride said operators at the processing facility will take the prohibited item and replace it with another toy or candy.