When Sauleja Satkute was about 7 years old and living in Kaunas, the second largest city in Lithuania, she helped throw a Christmas party for underprivileged families at her church, Good News Baptist Church. She loved seeing the children’s faces light up as she handed them shoebox gifts from Operation Christmas Child. Money was tight in her family but she wasn’t thinking about herself. She was just happy to be part of the festivities. Still, at the end of the party, as Satkute helped clean up from the party, she was given her very own box. Inside her box, were small dolls, a notebook, balloons and her favorite — a set of markers.
She was deeply touched. She ended up immigrating to the United States years later, settling in Georgia, and she recently graduated from the University of Georgia.
Satkute recently moved back to Lithuania, and this Christmas, she will be back her hometown church distributing gifts. (A full story is planned next week)
Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has delivered gift-filled shoeboxes to more than 113 million children in more than 150 countries. In 2014, Operation Christmas Child hopes to collect enough shoebox gifts to reach another 10 million children.
Atlanta is one of 9 processing center the country, and the organization is hoping for a regional goal for the southeast for this season is 950,000 boxes. This year the boxes gathered in Atlanta will head to several countries around the globe including India, Jamaica, Chad, Mali, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan. Last year, the organization collected more than 7.5 million boxes and they are hoping to collect closer to 10 million this year. The Atlanta processing center will accept shoeboxes up until December 20.
If you wold like to put together a shoebox gift for a child in need, here’s how to get started:
Use an empty cardboard or plastic shoebox (average size). You can wrap the box, lid separately, but wrapping is not required.
· Boy or Girl
Decide whether your gift will be for a boy or a girl, and the age category: 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14. Download and print the appropriate boy/girl label. Mark the correct age category and tape the label to the top of your box.
· Fill With Gifts
Fill the box with a variety of gifts that will bring delight to a child.
· Toys: Include items that children will immediately embrace such as dolls, toy cars, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, jump ropes, balls, toys that light up and make noise (with extra batteries), etc.
· School Supplies: pens, pencils and sharpeners, crayons, markers, notebooks, paper, solar calculators, coloring and picture books, etc.
· Non-Liquid Hygiene Items: toothbrushes, bar soap, combs, washcloths, etc.
· Accessories: t-shirts, socks, hats, sunglasses, hair clips, jewelry, watches, flashlights (with extra batteries), etc.
· A Personal Note: You may enclose a note to the child and a photo of yourself or your family. If you include your name and address, the child may be able to write back.
For more information, go to http://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/pack-a-shoe-box/
Operation Christmas Child
425 Horizon Dr, Suwanee, GA 30024. (The space is donated so it moves around each year, but it’s always in the Atlanta area)