Shoeboxes filled with gifts

Heather Estep stacks Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes filled with gifts for needy children Monday in the regional collection center at Glad Tidings Church in Morehead City. (Cheryl Burke photo)

MOREHEAD CITY — A shoebox filled with simple gifts can make a big difference in a needy child’s life, especially those living in the storm-ravaged Philippines, which was decimated Nov. 8 by Typhoon Haiyan.

Of the millions of shoeboxes collected across the U.S. this week during the Operation Christmas Child collection drive, 500,000 are slated for delivery to the Philippines to provide comfort to the many struggling children who lack basic necessities.

The regional Operation Christmas Child collection center opened Monday in the youth building of Glad Tidings Church on Country Club Road here. The center is collecting shoeboxes filled with items such as hygiene products, toys and school supplies, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Nov. 25.

In addition, relay centers are set up at the following churches:

•    New Hope Baptist Church, 2370 Highway 70, Beaufort: today through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday from 12:30 to 2 p.m. and Monday from 8 to 9 a.m.

•    Cape Carteret Baptist Church, 101 Anita Forte Drive, Cape Carteret, until 7 p.m. today, Thursday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon, Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Monday from 8 to10 a.m.

Todd Hansen, director of the regional center, said traditionally Samaritan’s Purse, the Christian humanitarian relief organization that sponsors Operation Christmas Child, targets areas that have suffered major disasters. In fact, he anticipates some boxes may end up going to the Midwest, which suffered major damage this week from a massive tornado outbreak. Samaritan’s Purse already has relief teams dispatched to that region, as well as to the Philippines.

“I know after Hurricane Katrina they did send shoeboxes to that area,” he said. “It’s a matter of the area being able to accept them.”

Regardless of where boxes end up, Mr. Hansen said they can greatly affect a child’s life.

“We’re sharing God’s love and His word. That’s what He calls us to do,” he said. “This one shoebox may be the only thing a child receives.”

He has set a goal of 25,000 shoeboxes for this year’s collection drive, and as of late Tuesday, nearly 2,000 boxes had arrived at the center.

As a unique way to launch the collection week, children and members of Glad Tidings Church created a human chain Sunday to pass shoeboxes collected by church and community members from the sanctuary, across the parking lot, to the collection center set up in the youth building across from West Carteret High School.

Church member Anna Fields, 17, said she was packing two shoeboxes this week.

“I want the children to know that God is always there for them, and He loves them,” she said.

Abi Brooks, 12, agreed.

“It could change a kid’s life,” she said. “It’s more than a box. It could be all a kid gets for Christmas, and it’s like Jesus to them, too.”

For the last several years, Glad Tidings has served as the regional collection center for a five-county area, and volunteers from various churches volunteer at the center throughout the week to unload the thousands of boxes that arrive.

Heather Estep, a member of One Harbor Church in Beaufort, was busy carrying and stacking boxes Monday.

“I’ve been collecting shoeboxes since I was little,” she said. “I’ve also volunteered at the processing centers in Duluth, Ga., and Charlotte. I love working with kids and being able to give them something that impacts their lives.”

In fact, Ms. Estep was leaving this week for Duluth, Ga., to volunteer at the processing center for three weeks.

Once boxes are received at the regional collection centers, they are transported to eight processing centers in the nation. From there they are shipped to nations 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

Operation Christmas Child uses tracking technology to allow participants to “follow” their box to the destination country where it will be given to a child in need. To register shoebox gifts and find out the destination country, use the “Follow Your Box” donation form found at

For more information, contact Mr. Hansen at 723-3686, call 1-800-353-5949, or visit the Samaritan’s Purse website.

Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.

(1) comment


im a disabled vet of desert strorm ,also single mom of 1 16 yr old and 2 17 yr old which I get no child support or help of and hate to ask, but I fear do to moving just this nov. 1st kids will not see any presents at all. my oldest son is disabled with Cp, seizures ,ect, my 16 yr old daughter has problems because of her father , my ex husbandwhich is in prison for the crimes he committed against her -sexually molested her at age 8,which has caused her to become bipolar,with manic depression,i also have a foster child living with use dol to his foster grandparents age 80+ and health prevent them from being able to feel safe and him feel wanted in the home. ..we make it payday to payday, but id really like them to have a nice christmas , exspecially because this might possibly be the last one we all spend together. what i'm asking is-if there is a family or church or organi. which feels like they could help me provide them with a special or even decent holiday experience i'd greatly app. any and all help available. toys for tots wonlt help because of age limits,i have limited transportation due to car needing repairs to pass inspection and paying 55$ in taxes and 28$ for tags,which come first for poss med, emerg. . I live in Carteret county,my kids go to croatan high .if there are any Christmas anglels looking to help or sponcer a family for Christmas,it would truly be a Christmas blessing. I can be reached at 910-478-8116,i get horrible reception on cell,plz leave mess . ill return any call immed. thank you and god bless you all!

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