Shoe box project promises to send smiles to others

Published 9:56 am Friday, November 2, 2007

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Niles Daily Star
NILES – Suffering children around the world will be delighted this holiday season when a shoe box filled with gifts is delivered for them.
Operation Christmas Child, the world's largest Christmas project, is hoping to bring hope to some 8 million hurting kids this year.
The project is partnered with Samaritan's Purse, a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world.
Niles residents, as well as people from surrounding communities, have been helping the project for the past 11 years and Niles drop-off site coordinator Esther Jones said this year, the Niles area will be expecting to deliver around 12,000 boxes to hurting children.
"This started as a simple project with my church in Buchanan. We wanted to send around 40 boxes. Over time, it took on a life of its own," Jones said.
With the help of the community, including students at the Niles Adventist School, Jones is hoping they can reach their goal and bring light to young children all over the world.
"These gift boxes are delivered to about 100 countries all over the world and we are one of 12 countries who make them for the children," she said.
The gift boxes are packaged in larger boxes and transported to Charlotte, N.C. where all of the shoe boxes are inspected.
Jones said she has three roadway trailers that will be filled with shoe boxes donated by Niles and other surrounding cities, including Dowagiac, St. Joseph, Granger, Ind., South Bend, Ind., Michigan City, Ind., and others.
"A total of 10 relay centers bring their items to Niles to be dropped off, that's one reason why we are expecting such a large turn out," Jones said.
Niles Adventist students spent Thursday afternoon filling their boxes with great gifts. Kelli Miller's box was filled with items such as a purple pair of flip-flops, a small stuffed animal and play dough.
"We try to fill them with school and art supplies, smaller toys like stuffed animals and cars and personal items such as soap, a toothbrush and toothpaste," Jones said.
Anyone from the community can pitch in to help this great cause.
Starting on Monday, Nov. 12 and continuing through the 19th, the Niles Adventist School will be accepting collections of gift boxes.
Gifts should unwrapped and placed in a shoe box, or a box similar in size. Wrapping paper can go on the outside of the shoe box.
Please do not include damaged items; war related items such as toy guns, knives or military figures; chocolate or food; liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers; or aerosol cans.
Items that can be included are smaller toys, such as dolls, small cars, jump ropes and toys that light up or make noises; school supplies; hygiene items; hard candy, including suckers, mints and gum; clothing and a personal note with a photo of yourself if you wish.
A $7 donation is also asked for each shoe box gift to help with shipping and other expenses.
"This is a great opportunity to involve the whole community in a project that touches the lives of children a world away from us. For most of their lives, these children have only known suffering and hurt, so the opportunity to reach them and their families through a simple shoe box gift is a privilege," Jones added.
Collection drop-off times and dates are as follows:
Niles Adventist School
110 N. Fairview Ave.
Niles, MI 49120
(800) 498-8554
Hours of Operation:
Monday, Nov. 12
9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 13
3 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 14
3 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 15
4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 16
1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 17
5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 18
1 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Monday, Nov. 19
9 a.m. – 7 p.m.