Operation Christmas Child sends Joy around the World

Even though we’re not quite yet celebrating Thanksgiving, preparations are underway for getting gifts to children in all parts of the world by a variety of local groups and individuals. A BCHS teacher and mother of two explained how her family’s church is making those deliveries possible through Operation Christmas Child.

“I’m Kirby Smith, and I go to Healing Springs Baptist Church, and that’s the church that is the drop-off location.”  Operation Christmas Child has been a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international evangelical organization since 1993.

“What happens to the gifts, most often assembled in shoe boxes, once they arrive at Healing Springs, and other participating churches?”

“So there’s a long process that the boxes go through.  So, ultimately somebody will pack a box, and they’ll bring them to a drop-off location which are available nationally.  And then from there, the drop off locations will take them to a central drop-off.  The central drop-off will take them to a processing center.  At that point people will go through the boxes to make sure everything is appropriate, making sure not to remove anything that’s already in there, unless it’s something like liquid, or something they’re not supposed to take. And then from there, they’ll be put onto cargo containers, and they’ll be shipped all around the world.”

I asked Kirby about where some of the gifts might end up. 

“Well it’s really cool.  They have this thing that you can print off a label and yo can actually track where your shoe boxes go.  We’ve had boxes from Ukraine, to Ecuador, Chile, all over the world.  So they do, South America, Africa, and do European and Asian Countries; so it’s pretty cool to see where your boxes end up.”

“Can you give a few examples of things people can include in these boxes?”

“So you can do everything from toys to hygiene items, school supplies, clothing, things like that. We emphasize that every box should have what they call a ‘wow’ item, which is one special gift. For the child.  A popular item could be a soccer ball with a pump, a barbie doll, something  lie that, an item of a little more weight. And then we pack things like pens, and pencils and crayons, and coloring books and things like that, soap and a washcloth and a toothbrush; you can no longer pack toothpaste, so we just send the toothbrush.  But really anything that will fit in a shoe box that’s not liquid, and not edible, you can pretty much send.”

“Is there any way that a homemade gift like a necklace or a bracelet would be all right?”

“Sure.  We have groups that have made bracelets and things all year long.  My mom has made hygiene kits for girls in the countries that don’t have access to things that we take for granted in this country. Absolutely, homemade things are acceptable.”

This is collection week across the country, but locally you can take boxes to: Healing Springs Baptist Church at 4697  Sam Snead Highway: Tuesday Nov.13, and Wed. Nov 14th from 4-6 pm; Thurs from 5-7,  and  Friday from  5-8 pm. 

McDowell United Methodist Church is another collection site at 9090 Highland Turnpike with drop off times Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week from 6:00 to 8 pm. 

Boxes are also being collected at Covington Bible Church at 2140 South Carpenter Drive, and at Marlinton Presbyterian Church, 815 2nd Avenue.  

Saturday, Sunday and next Monday hours are all available with this news story on the AMR website, and on samaritanspurse.Org.  

Hot Springs, VA – Healing Springs Baptist

4697 Sam Snead Highway

Hot Springs, VA 24445-2445

Mon, Nov. 12: 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Tue, Nov. 13: 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Wed, Nov. 14: 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Thu, Nov. 15: 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Fri, Nov. 16: 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Sat, Nov. 17: 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM

Sun, Nov. 18: 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Mon, Nov. 19: 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM*

McDowell, VA – McDowell United Methodist Church

9090 Highland Turnpike

McDowell, VA 24458

Mon, Nov. 12: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Tue, Nov. 13: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Wed, Nov. 14: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Thu, Nov. 15: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Fri, Nov. 16: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Sat, Nov. 17: 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Sun, Nov. 18: 12:30 PM – 3:00 PM

Mon, Nov. 19: 7:00 AM – 9:00 AM

Covington, VA – Covington Bible Church

2140 S Carpenter Drive

Covington, VA 24426-2408

Mon, Nov. 12: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Tue, Nov. 13: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Wed, Nov. 14: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Thu, Nov. 15: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Fri, Nov. 16: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Sat, Nov. 17: 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Sun, Nov. 18: 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Mon, Nov. 19: 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM


If the idea of shopping and assembling a shoe box doesn’t work for you, but participating in some way does appeal, there’s always virtual gifting.  Kirby continued.

“There’s a place online that you can donate.  And you can actually pack a box on line as well.  If you don’t have the ability to go out and shop.  Or you’re kind of overwhelmed, and it’s your first year, and you want to dip a toe in, then they have a place that you can pack a box on line.”

“We just like to emphasize that there’s no gift too small.  If God’s leading you to put it in your box, then do so, because he’s got the perfect kid in mind for that gift, and just pack, and pray for it, and put it in God’s hands.”

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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