OCC Special Report - Feature Article - Volunteer


Thank You, Volunteers!

Each child, family, and church who lovingly packs a shoebox gift plays a vital part in our worldwide effort to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to boys and girls around the world through the Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child project.

“Thank you, volunteers!” said Franklin Graham, President, Samaritan’s Purse. “We couldn’t reach millions of children around the world each year without you!”

More than 73,000 project leaders across the country volunteer to coordinate their church’s or group’s shoebox packing and collecting. As these gift-filled shoeboxes are dropped off with prayer, several volunteer roles are needed to collect, transport, and inspect the gift boxes before they are sent to help local partners spread the Good News of the Gospel and great joy to children, their families, and their communities in more than 100 countries.

“We couldn’t reach millions of children around the world each year without you!”
—Franklin Graham
President, Samaritan’s Purse

Renee Brinton of Shelby, North Carolina, said serving as a drop-off location volunteer at her church gave her a sense of this teamwork as the body of believers in Christ: “Every chance we have an opportunity to volunteer or give back, we need to, because we have been so blessed.”

More than 80,000 people volunteered at the nearly 5,000 drop-off locations open across the United States during National Collection Week, the third week in November.

From drop-off locations, shoeboxes are transported to one of eight processing centers across the country where teams of volunteers inspect and prepare them for international shipping.

Renee Brinton

Volunteers travel from near and far to help process shoebox gifts, serving in teams to inspect each gift, scan any Follow Your Box labels, and package the shoeboxes into shipping cartons.

Serving Together

At the processing center that is part of the Samaritan’s Purse international headquarters in Boone, North Carolina, Judy Shoun of Zolfo Springs, Florida, likened her volunteering with Samaritan’s Purse to seeing the body of Christ at work.

“Each member has its own part and depends on one another to do their part so the next piece fits,” Judy said. “As one completes their part, another steps in whom God has gifted just for this purpose.”

Sherman Currin of Lillington, North Carolina, delighted in scanning Follow Your Box labels at the processing center as he placed inspected shoeboxes into cartons. The tracking labels make it possible for those who gave a $9 per shoebox donation online to find out the country destinations of their shoebox gifts.

“I’m here to work for the Lord,” Sherman said. He prays for the shoebox recipients to recognize and accept the true Source of the gifts. “These shoeboxes are sent to them through our Lord Jesus Christ,” he said.

After drop-off location and processing center volunteers give of their time seasonally, Operation Christmas Child depends on more than 9,000 volunteers who serve year-round to encourage others to participate in the project. Engaging in roles ranging from logistics to leadership, these volunteers promote shoebox packing when most people aren’t thinking about Christmas, making it possible for millions of boxes to be collected each year.

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord.”
—1 Corinthians 12:4-5 (ESV)

Year-Round Involvement

Diane Calvert, who volunteers her administrative skills year-round to our Operation Christmas Child West Coast regional office, is motivated by an eternal perspective. “A shoebox does not just reach one child, it reaches a community and shows them the love of Jesus,” she said.

Jill Cobb of Mountain View, Missouri, also enjoys volunteering because of the project’s Kingdom impact. “My passion is evangelism, and I [always] want to see one more person come to Jesus,” said Jill, who serves as a year-round area coordinator.

Jack Hatten, a year-round volunteer in community relations in south-central Ohio, shares that big-picture perspective. “It’s more than just a shoebox of toys,” he said. “The items are important because they mean a lot to the children who receive them. But it isn’t about the goodies, it’s about the Gospel.”

“It’s more than just a shoebox … it’s about the Gospel.”
—Jack Hatten

Dianne Calvert, Administration

Jack Hatten, Community Relations

Jill Cobb, Area Coordinator

As millions of shoeboxes are shipped overseas each year, Operation Christmas Child volunteers in the United States hand off the baton to national and regional leadership teams in more than 100 countries. They train, develop, and coordinate partnerships with local churches year-round.

These church volunteers distribute the gift-filled shoeboxes to boys and girls, sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, God’s Greatest Gift. Then, they invite them to learn more about Him through The Greatest Journey, our 12-lesson discipleship program for shoebox recipients.

Additional volunteers from these churches teach The Greatest Journey to help the children learn how to follow Jesus and to share about Him with family and friends.

This past year, more than 2 million children made decisions for Christ through The Greatest Journey! Praise God for how His Word is moving in the hearts of these little ones to seek repentance and salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Volunteers: Ask the Lord to guide your participation in Operation Christmas Child during 2019, praying for church partners around the world as they share the Gospel with millions of children.