Drop off times set for Operation Christmas Child

Franklin County resides will have one of their first chances to help others in need this holiday season through the Operation Christmas Child shoe box collection program.

National collection week for Operation Christmas Child (OCC) shoe boxes is Nov. 18 – 25.

In the past three years, First United Methodist Church in downtown Russellville has served as an OCC relay center for Franklin County and surrounding areas.

But site coordinator Kathy Archer said this year the church will serve as a collection center for Northwest Alabama, including the counties of Franklin, Lauderdale, Colbert, Lawrence, Marion, and Winston.

There will be volunteers in the Ministry Center located behind the church during national collection week to collect all the shoes boxes filled with toys, school supplies, hygiene items and notes of encouragement.

These boxes will then be sent to needy children all over the world.

“Operation Christmas Child is a unique opportunity to do something as simple as packaging a shoe box that will have a lasting impact on a child a world away,” Archer said.

“We are excited about the collection season as families, churches, scout troops, schools, civic clubs and businesses are filling their shoe boxes so that over nine million children, many of whom have never received a gift before, will receive a message of hope and love.”

Archer said Samaritan’s Purse began collecting shoe boxes filled with gifts for hurting children two decades ago. That first year, 28,000 boxes were handed out to children in war-torn Bosnia.

OCC has grown since that time, and in 2012, over 9 million shoe boxes were collected worldwide, including over 6.5 million from the United States.

Last year, approximately 1,000 boxes were collected at the Russellville relay center and another 1,000 at the Red Bay relay center alone.

Archer said many of this year’s boxes will make their way to the Philippines, which has recently sustained catastrophic damage from Super Typhoon Haiyan.

“Over 2.7 million shoe boxes have been sent to the Philippines in the past and I know with the terrible typhoon hitting the islands this week that not only is Samaritan’s Purse helping but they will see that Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes will get to as many children as possible,” Archer said.

The Philippines is one of more than 150 countries and territories that have received the boxes since 1993.

“As a retired elementary teacher, helping children has been a passion of mine for over 42 years,” Archer said.

“I packed my first box in 1998 while living in Opelika, and it has been a passion of mine ever since.”

From 2000-2005, Archer serves as the co-coordinator of the OCC project in Oneonta and picked up where she left off when she and her family moved to Russellville in 2006 becoming the site coordinator for the Russellville relay location.

“My goal is to help children in Franklin County and all over the world,” Archer said.

“There are so many hurting children and many of them have never received a gift of any kind. I cannot help all of them, but I can help some. This is a project that anyone can help with, and I encourage everyone in this area to consider filling a shoe box for a deserving child this year.”

For brochures, bulletin inserts, DVDs explaining the program, or to volunteer at the site, contact Kathy Archer at 256-412-8520.

For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, visit samaritanspurse.org.

Russellville FUMC Ministry Center hours of operation during national collection week Nov. 18-25:

Nov. 18 from 9 a.m. – noon

Nov. 19 from 9 a.m. – noon

Nov. 20 from 9 a.m. – noon and 5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 21 from 9 a.m. – noon

Nov. 22 from 9 a.m. – noon

Nov. 23 from 9 a.m. – noon

Nov. 24 from 9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

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