Volunteers Know ‘Each Shoebox Is a Missionary’

September 22, 2015 • United States

There are many ways to get involved with Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan's Purse that brings the Good News of Jesus Christ to children around the world.

When Carol and Pat Nelson volunteer with Operation Christmas Child, they know first-hand how much each gift can mean.

Twelve years ago, the Nelsons packed their first shoebox for Operation Christmas Child and sent it off with a letter and a picture. Seven months later, they received a thank-you letter written in French from a 9-year-old girl named Elizabeth in Burkina Faso. They continued to communicate by mail, and last year the Nelsons had the opportunity to travel to Africa and meet Elizabeth where she lives.

“Operation Christmas Child has brought such joy to me,” said Carol as she and Paul served in the Boone Processing Center. “I feel honored to check them and think of who they are going to and how it will change their lives. “

We have processing centers in eight locations across the country.

We have processing centers in eight locations across the country.

The Nelsons traveled over 500 miles from Easton, Pennsylvania, to help inspect and sort shoebox gifts and prepare them for international shipping. They are among more than 110,000 U.S. volunteers who serve faithfully at Operation Christmas Child’s eight processing centers and over 4,000 local collection sites.

Don and Marlene Horch coordinate a collection center in Vancouver, Washington, and have traveled cross-country the past seven years to volunteer at the processing center in Boone, North Carolina. Don said, “Each shoebox is a missionary going with the Gospel message.”

More than 8,700 volunteers like the Horches serve year-round with Operation Christmas Child, focusing on prayer mobilization, church relations, community relations, media relations, or collections.

Bill Manley, chaplain of the Boone Processing Center, said, “Shoeboxes are not the only thing being processed here. All of us are too. God is working in our lives through the work that’s being done here.”

In addition to our headquarters in Boone, we have processing centers in Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlotte, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Minneapolis, and Southern California.

“God can take our offerings and change lives,” said Carol Smith, who coordinates volunteers in Atlanta. “Something as simple as a shoebox, it’s a very humble offering, and God can change the life of the person who packs the box, the people who process the box, the child who receives the box, the community where the child lives—God can do all that through really simple offerings.”

Please pray for Operation Christmas Child and our upcoming National Shoebox Collection Week, November 16-23. You can find out more here about packing a shoebox, registering to volunteer, and ordering free materials.