Friday, November 12, 2004

Gift drive helps kids
in war-torn countries

Operation Christmas Child is collecting gifts for children in war-torn countries from Monday through Nov. 21 at Nuuanu Congregational Church on Pali Highway.

The project, now in its 11th year, is sponsored by Samaritan's Purse, an international charitable organization. Hawaii coordinator Rebecca Woodland is asking the public to fill shoe boxes with inexpensive toys, school supplies and other items for suffering children. She started the project five years ago in Hawaii with a few friends, assembling 80 boxes. Last year, she collected 3,900 boxes.

Participants should decide if the box will be for a boy or girl, and the age category: 2 through 4 years, 5 through 9 or 10 through 14.

Fill the box with appropriate gifts, including toys (no war-related items or action figures), school supplies (no liquid glue), hygiene items (no liquids), T-shirts, hard candy (no food or chocolate), etc.

Mailing labels, checking off the correct age and sex designations, can be printed out by visiting the Web site www.samaritanspurse.org or calling Woodland at 295-3027, who can arrange for a meeting to give them out.

Enclose a $5 check to help with shipping costs, payable to Samaritan's Purse, in the shoe box on top of gift items, and place a rubber band securely around the box and lid. Participants are asked to decorate or wrap the shoe boxes in a way so that the lid can be removed for customs inspection.

A postcard or Christmas card with your photo and/or a personal note may be included. If participants would rather donate items to be packed into shoe boxes or make a monetary donation, contact Woodland.

Operation Christmas Child is a global effort that expects to send more than 7 million boxes worldwide this year.

"It's a powerful way of opening doors that have been closed forever. ... It makes a big, big difference for many kids for whom this is the only gift they've ever gotten," Woodland said.

Boxes can be dropped off at the Matson container in the church parking lot, at 2651 Pali Highway, Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.



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