Local Operation Christmas Child effort enters 9th year

The 2022 local Operation Christmas Child crew, from left, Julia Strack, Dawn Martin, Don Little, Janet Armstrong, Carol Hochstetler, Paige Jordan, and Mary Jane Schrock (who has been part of the local effort for each of the past eight years).

News Staff Writer

This week (November 14-21) is National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse that seeks to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world.
Atmore’s involvement in the project — which actually covers collections from four counties, Escambia, Monroe, Conecuh and Butler — is entering its ninth year, and expectations are that this season will be as successful as those in the past, despite the country’s continuing economic downturn.
“Atmore has taken part for the last eight years,” said Janet Armstrong, who is heading up this year’s four-county project. “At our drop-off points, which include Escambia, Butler, Conecuh and Monroe counties, we are expecting around 8,500 shoeboxes this year, which is great.
“We surpassed our expectations last year and had to order another semi-truck to pack our shoeboxes, so we got an extra truck this year. We’re hoping to fill both trucks.”
Grace Fellowship Church, 1412 E. Nashville Avenue, is again the local drop-off point. Armstrong said she and the half-dozen volunteers who help her — Julia Strack, Dawn Martin, Paige Jordan, Don Little, Carol Hochstetler and Mary Jane Schrock — were anxious to see just how successful this year’s project will be.
Atmore is one of more than 4,500 locations around the U.S. that opened this week to collect Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts for the Samaritan’s Purse project.
Armstrong said collections from the four-county area usually wind up being sent to Africa, although Samaritans Purse officials could send them to any country.
“Usually, collections from these counties end up in Africa,” she said. “We never really know, but it seems like they end up in Africa. The shoeboxes are sent all over world.”
This year’s first donation came from Poarch Baptist Church, which brought 75 boxes to the collection point Monday shortly after the group “opened for business.” A bus from Atmore Christian School showed up next, bringing the school’s participation to 42 boxes, with about 40 more expected.
For a complete list of what needs to go inside each box, or where the drop-off points are in Conecuh, Butler and Monroe counties, visit samaritanspurseoperationchristmaschild and follow the prompts. The website also has several short videos that will explain the concept behind Operation Christmas Child.
“These shoeboxes will make some people happy at Christmas, and that’s what it’s all about,” said Armstrong.

Remaining dates and times for local drop-offs are as follows:
Wednesday Nov. 16: 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 16: 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 17: 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 18: 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 19: 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Sunday, Nov. 20: 12 p.m. – 2 p.m.
Monday, Nov. 21: 8 a.m. – 10 a.m.

Operation Christmas Child has been collecting and delivering shoebox gifts — filled with school supplies, hygiene items and fun toys — to children worldwide since 1993. In 2022, Operation Christmas Child hopes to collect enough shoeboxes to reach another 11 million children.
Since its beginning, the outreach ministry has collected and delivered more than 198 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 170 countries and territories. This year, Operation Christmas Child will collect its 200-millionth shoebox.