Operation Christmas Child
By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Operation Christmas Child seems to be on track to another successful year here.
Thirteen hundred gift-filled shoe boxes had been dropped off by Tuesday at the Niles Adventist Elementary School, which is the operation's collection center here.
Esther Jones, a local operation site coordinator, said the goal this year is to collect 10,000 gift-filled boxes.
Jones, who brought the worldwide operation to the area seven years ago, said her church, Buchanan Adventist Church, planned to collect 40 boxes the first year.
The operation has since grown considerably locally and approximately 24,000 boxes have been collected here since the beginning seven years ago, she said.
Operation Christmas Child, however, began in Wales in 1990 to help suffering children in Romania's orphanages.
Since Samaritan's Purse, the Christian relief and evangelism organization, adopted the program in 1993, 24 million gift-filled shoe boxes have been distributed to children.
Each year before Christmas, simple gifts are packed in shoe boxes by people in the U.S and other countries in the world.
The boxes are then delivered as Christmas presents to hurting children in troubled regions such as Eastern Europe, African countries, Latin America and Central and South East Asia.
She said the children who receive the boxes, which typically contain soap, underwear, candy, school supplies, tooth brushes, balls and candy -- just to name a few of the things people put in the boxes -- are "the poorest children in the world."
Deborah Fox of Niles was among those who dropped by the collection center on Tuesday.
With her, she brought 27 boxes filled with toys and useful products from members of the Bethlehem Baptist Church on Fulkerson Road.
She said this year is her church's first time of giving to the operation.
A newspaper clipping from last year reminded Fox and her church of the operation this year.
Fox, who went to a dollar store to find items to put in her own box, thinks the operation serves a great purpose.
Jones said it's mostly churches, christian schools and individuals that have been giving so far.
The collection center in Niles collects from a 50-mile radius.
Jones said there are relay centers in Hobart, Munster, Chesterton, Plymouth and Howe, all Indiana.
When enough boxes have been collected to fill up a truck, the boxes are transported to a larger collection center in Indianapolis, Jones said.