Such a small number -- not much value. It really needs something added to have an impact.
But all it took was one man's idea 21 years ago to pack simple gifts in a shoebox for child war victims for the number to grow to 100 million shoeboxes given to needy children around the world.
This single idea became Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes, a project of Samaritan's Purse and the world's largest Christmas project of its kind.
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It involves hundreds of people across the Tri-Cities-Eastern Oregon region who gave more than 14,800 Shoeboxes as part of their 2013 Christmas gift giving.
Most donors have probably not heard of David Cook of Great Britain. In 1993, he packed the first shoebox for the child victims of the Bosnian war. Many were homeless and hurting in a place that offered little hope. The need was overwhelming.
Cook made one phone call to Franklin Graham, head of Samaritan's Purse, a U.S.-based Christian relief agency and asked for help. Graham, unsure if there would be support for the idea, asked Pastor Ross Rhoads of Calvary Church in Charlotte, N.C., to invite his congregation to fill some shoeboxes in the next two weeks.
The church responded with more than 11,000 shoeboxes -- and the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox project was born.
It has taken root across the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, Germany, Japan, Spain and the United Kingdom. Since Cook's initial phone call to Graham in 1993, 113 million shoeboxes have been put into the hands of children in more than 150 countries. Last year, U.S. supporters gave 7.3 million shoeboxes.
But it's not just a "church" thing. Tri-Cities area donors include businesses, youth and adult service groups, motorcycle clubs, dental offices,private schools, and individuals.
Anyone can do it.
First, decide if it's for a boy or girl and what age. Then fill a shoebox or similar size container with toys, a stuffed animal to cuddle, school supplies, personal hygiene items like a toothbrush and soap. Leave out anything war-related, chocolate, breakable or spillable. Put in $7 to help pay for shipping. Put in a letter to the recipient telling about yourself; add a return address and maybe you'll hear back.
Wrap the box and lid separately, rubber-band it shut, and tape on the OCC Shoebox label. Labels are available online or from participating churches.
Shipping payments can be paid online (www.samaritanspurse.org) and a barcoded label will be emailed back so you can follow where your shoebox was delivered.
For many of the children, it is the first gift they've received -- ever -- and offers the true meaning of Christmas and a reminder they have not been forgotten.
It all began with one.
Note: Collection week for Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes is Nov. 17-24. Shoeboxes can be dropped off from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Bethel Church, 600 Shockley Rd., Richland. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- Fay Smith is a member of the Tri-Cities Regional Coordinating Team for Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes and attends South Hills Church in Kennewick. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill iat rive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or email email@example.com.