Students from All Saints Catholic School brought boxes to Grace Community Church Monday. (Chaunte’l Powell Photo)
This holiday season, as the city is digging in various storage places to retrieve Christmas decorations, Grace Community Church is encouraging everyone to find it in their hearts to donate to those less fortunate as well.
Operation Christmas Child is project of Samaritan’s Purse and is in full swing for the 19th year in a row. The worldwide organization collects shoe boxes filled with school supplies, toys, hygiene items, hard candy, and other treats to send them to children around the globe. According to Teresa Mckee at Grace Community Church, this year the program anticipates sending off its 100 millionth box.
The gift boxes are sent to about 130 countries, many of which have been torn apart by war. Mckee said they are delivered by plane, train, and even donkey if necessary, all with the intent of letting children know they are loved.
“The purpose of Operation Christmas Child is to put gift-filled shoe boxes together for children who are lost and hurting in different parts of the world,” she said. “The goal is to show them the love of God, and share with them the love of God.”
Shoe boxes contain toys, treats and useful everyday items, but she said that’s not the most important thing that goes with the box.
“The most important ingredient that goes into these boxes is the prayer,” she said. “At Grace Community Church, for example, this Sunday, we will dedicate and pray over these boxes. But each family who packs them also prays over them. That, I believe, is the most important component and ingredient that goes into these boxes.”
She added that the community has done an amazing job of showing it cares, exceeding expectations each year. In 2011, 4,449 boxes were collected—572 more than in 2010. All Saints Catholic School sent students Monday to drop off boxes. The school was able to collect 81 this year after collecting just three when they first started donating to the program three years ago. McKee said she is proud of how members of the community have been able to surpass goals each year despite the troubles they might be facing due to issues in the economy.
“Each year we just seem to grow and people continue—in spite of an ailing economy— (to) open their hearts and their wallets to care for those in need,” she said. “I think that is something that is special to southeastern New Mexico. We see this time and time again, this is an incredibly giving, loving region and we see them pouring into Samaritan’s Purse each year.
This week is National Collection week and members of the community can drop off donations at Grace Community Church at 935 W. Mescalero Road from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The final collection day will be Nov. 19.