MOREHEAD CITY — A small shoebox may not seem like much. However, when it’s filled with toys and school supplies, it can become a big deal for a child in need.
That’s why volunteers opened the Operation Christmas Child regional collection center Monday at Glad Tidings Church in Morehead City.
National Collection Week for OCC began Monday and will continue through Monday, Nov. 25.
The international Christian relief effort, organized by Samaritan’s Purse in Boone, involves packing toys, hygiene products or clothing in shoeboxes. The boxes are distributed to needy children in more than 100 nations.
“It’s an opportunity to fulfill what Jesus said about going into all the world to preach the gospel. This is a unique opportunity to do that,” regional collection center co-director Gwen Davis said as she sorted boxes that were dropped off Tuesday in the church’s Family Life Center.
Glad Tidings serves as a regional collection center for Carteret, Craven, Jones, Onslow and Pamlico counties. In addition, county relay centers are set up at New Hope Baptist Church in Beaufort and Cape Carteret Baptist Church.
This year an additional regional collection center for the five-county area is set up at Tabernacle Baptist Church in New Bern.
The goal for this year’s collection drive in the five-county area is 35,000 shoebox gifts. Worldwide, OCC hopes to collect enough shoebox gifts to reach 11 million children.
Long-time OCC volunteer David Springle of Beaufort, along with his wife and four children, was among those helping Tuesday at the Glad Tidings site.
“When I started doing this I was a child myself. Now that I have kids I get to see the joy they have filling up shoeboxes for other children,” Mr. Springle said. “I nearly tear up when I think about how parents in a third world country who can’t provide resources for their children must feel when they see people from other countries taking the time to provide gifts for their children.”
Lilla Wieseler, a retired school teacher from Indian Beach, was among those dropping off boxes Tuesday, saying she donates every year.
“I guess I think it is the right thing to do,” Ms. Wieseler said. “It’s fun and I get to go shopping for the kids.”
Ms. Davis said volunteers are still needed to help during this year’s National Collection Week. She added that OCC is a year-long endeavor, with a variety of ways to help.
As well as helping at collection centers, volunteers can help with church relations, community relations, prayer teams and more.
Those wanting to pack boxes and drop them off during National Collection Week can do so at one of the following locations:
• Glad Tidings Church, 4621 Country Club Road, Morehead City. The center will be open from 4-7 p.m. Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; 1-3 p.m. Sunday; and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Nov. 25.
• New Hope Baptist Church, 2370 Highway 70, Beaufort, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; 12:30-4 p.m. Sunday; and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Nov. 25.
• Cape Carteret Baptist Church, 101 Anita Forte Drive, from 4-7 pm. Wednesday; 9 a.m. to noon Thursday; 4-7 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday; 3-5 p.m. Sunday; and 9-11 a.m. Monday, Nov. 25.
Once boxes are received at the regional collection centers, they are transported to eight processing centers in the nation. From there they are shipped around the world.
Volunteers and supplies will be available at the county’s collection centers to assist those needing help with boxes. Also, information and labels can be obtained at samaritanspurse.org/occ.
As well as physically packing boxes and dropping them off at one of the centers, people can also pack boxes using a computer or mobile device.
Those interested in packing a box using a computer or mobile device can go to samaritanspurse.org/occ. Select toys and gift items, write a note of encouragement and “pack” them in a shoebox.
Using special tracking technology, participants can follow their box to discover where their gift is delivered by using the donation form found at samaritanspurse.org/occ.
The cost to ship boxes is $9 per box.
For more information about how to participate in OCC, call Ms. Davis at 252-725-0435.
Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.