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Shoe boxes will help needy children

In December, needy boys and girls in countries around the world will be opening Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes full of toys, school and hygiene items  and some of the boxes will be from Southwest Oklahoma.

For more than 25 years, Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan's Purse, has sent more than 100 million shoe boxes to more than 100 countries around the world. Across the area, church groups and individuals have been packing shoe boxes again this year. 

"It all begins when people like you choose to pack a shoe box with toys, hygiene items, and school supplies," said LaVonna Funkhouser, Southwest Oklahoma logistics coordinator, adding that boxes should be delivered to specified churches in Altus, Carnegie, Duncan, Elgin, Hobart, Lawton and Walters next week. A list of the churches along with directions to the church and hours each church is open for the boxes to be dropped off can be found online at www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child. Click on "Shoebox Drop-off Locations" and type in a zipcode. 

Packed boxes should be taken to one of those locations sometime between Monday through Nov. 19. On Nov. 20, a truck will pick up all the donated boxes at the area central collection center, which is First Baptist Church in Lawton, 501 SW B. Then the boxes will be transported to the processing center in Grapevine, Texas, for inspection before they are shipped overseas.

Still time to pack boxes

Many of the churches have or will have packing parties, but individuals and other groups can still pack shoe box-sized boxes and deliver them to one of the churches in the list between Monday and Nov. 19, said Mary Swafford, team leader at First Baptist Church in Lawton. 

"There are still some boxes available at the church, but it doesn't have to be an official shoe box. Last year ... (there was) a small toolbox filled with things. Can you imagine a boy getting that box?" Swafford said. 

Official Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes can also be found or dropped off at Salt Cellar, 3801 Cache Road in Lawton, but only through Tuesday, when their filled boxes will be shipped to the processing center. Boxes may also still be available at Hobby Lobby or other stores in Southwest Oklahoma. A virtual box can be built at the website and an actual box will be delivered. 

There is a list of suggested items to put in the shoe boxes at the Operation Christmas Child website.

First Baptist Church members, when they have their packing party, like to put "hygiene items like soap, toothbrush, washcloth and comb  but no toothpaste this year," Swafford said, adding that toothpaste can be an import issue for some countries. "We also put some school items like a bundle of pencils, writing tablet and crayons, and also a fun item  the website calls it a 'wow' item  a toy, bouncing ball or yo-yo. Some people put in a deflated soccer ball and a pump, but that is a little more expensive."

The Lawton Constitution

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