Operation Christmas Child starts in Ramona

   Christmas is arriving early in Ramona, as a local church prepares to serve as a collection point for Operation Christmas Child.  Soon, with the help of Ramona volunteers, Grace Community Church will be brimming with festively wrapped shoe boxes full of gifts.

   Through Operation Christmas Child, the world’s largest Christmas project, Ramona residents are packing shoe box gifts for children suffering from natural disaster, war, terrorism, disease, famine and poverty in more than 100 countries.

   From Ramona, the shoe box gifts will be sorted and sent using whatever means necessary—sea containers, trucks, trains, airplanes, boats, camels, even dog sleds—to reach suffering children around the world.

   “Operation Christmas Child is a unique opportunity to do something as simple as packing a shoe box that will have a lasting impact on a child a world away,” said Ramona resident Charmaine Bush, Operation Christmas Child dropoff site coordinator. “We are excited about the 2009 collection season as community members have already begun packing shoe box gifts.”

   Operation Christmas Child uses tracking technology that allows donors to “follow your box” to the destination country where it will be hand-delivered to a child in need. To register shoe box gifts and find out what country they are delivered to, use the EZ Give donation form found at www.samaritanspurse.org.

   Grace Community Church at 1234 Barger Place will collect  gift-filled shoe boxes Nov. 16 through 22.  Collections will be from 10 a.m. to noon on Monday through Friday, Nov. 16 to 20, from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 21, and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 22.  

   In 2008, the Ramona area contributed 431 boxes to the Operation Christmas Child effort.  This year, organizers hope to collect 500 gift-filled shoe boxes from families, kids, churches, schools and civic organizations in the area.

   Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child, a project of international Christian relief and evangelism organization Samaritan’s Purse, headed by Franklin Graham, has delivered more than 69 million gift-filled shoe boxes to needy children in some 130 countries. Samaritan’s Purse volunteers were in Ramona helping  Witch fire victims in 2007, said Bush.

   “It’s a wonderful organization,” she said.

   To prepare for Nov. 16-22, Ramonans are encouraged to enlist families, churches, Scout troops, community groups and businesses to take part in creating shoe box gifts for needy children worldwide.

   Fill shoe boxes with school supplies, toys, necessity items, hard candy and a letter of encouragement. Step-by-step shoe box packing instructions are available at www.samaritanspurse.org.

    For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, call 714-432-7030 or visit www.samaritanspurse.org.  

   For more information about the collection effort in Ramona, leave a message for Bush at Grace Community Church, 1-760-789-0562.

   
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