Southwest Michigan residents encouraged to donate to Operation Christmas Child

Published 12:51 pm Wednesday, November 3, 2021

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN — Local residents once again have the chance to give children from around the world gifts they may not otherwise receive.

As part of Operation Christmas Child, Samaritan’s Purse will be accepting shoebox donations at Sister Lakes Community Church, 67119 M-152 Dowagiac, and First Church of Christ, 2240 Yankee St., Niles, from Nov. 15-22.

Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by President and CEO Franklin Graham, works in more than 100 countries to provide aid to victims of war, disease, disaster, poverty and famine.

“These gifts open the door for us to share God’s love and the eternal hope of the Gospel with children and their families who are living in desperation and fear,” Graham said. “In the midst of the pandemic, children around the world need to know that God loves them and there is hope. A simple shoebox gift opens the door to share about the true hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ.”

Operation Christmas Child has been collecting and delivering shoebox gifts – filled with school supplies, hygiene items and toys – to children worldwide. Nearly 575,000 volunteers worldwide – including more than 270,000 in the U.S. – are involved in collecting, shipping and distributing shoebox gifts, according to the organization.

Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 188 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 160 countries and territories.

“Each year-round volunteer, participating church, group and individual shoebox packer is the heart and soul and engine driving Operation Christmas Child,” said Senior Director of Operation Christmas Child Randy Riddle. “Together, we are rallying around the opportunity and calling to serve Jesus in this way.”

Donation times for Sister Lakes Community Church are:

  • 5 to 7 p.m. Mon, Nov. 15
  • 10 a.m. to noon Tue, Nov. 16
  • 5 to 7 p.m. Wed, Nov. 17
  • 2 to 4 p.m. Thu, Nov. 18
  • 3 to 5 p.m. Fri, Nov. 19
  • Noon to 2 p.m. Sat, Nov. 20
  • 1 to 3 p.m. Sun, Nov. 21
  • 9 to 11 a.m. Mon, Nov. 22

Donation times for First Church of Christ are:

  • 9 to 11 a.m. Mon, Nov. 15
  • 9 to 11 a.m. Tue, Nov. 16
  • 6 to 8 p.m. Wed, Nov. 17
  • 5 to 8 p.m. Wed, Nov. 17
  • 9 to 11 a.m. Thu, Nov. 18
  • 1 to 3 p.m. Fri, Nov. 19
  • 4 to 8 p.m. Sat, Nov. 20
  • 1 to 4 p.m. Sun, Nov. 21
  • 9 to 11 a.m. Mon, Nov. 22

The organization asks that donations do not include food, liquids, used or damaged items, war‑related items or toy weapons or breakable items.

Learn how to pack a shoebox, view gift suggestions and find the nearest drop‑off location at Participants can donate $9 per shoebox gift online through Follow Your Box and receive a tracking label to discover its destination.

When participants arrive at the drop-off location, there will be signs for curbside drop-off. Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, the organization asks that everyone be free of COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days and encourages checking temperatures before arriving.

Additionally, participants can create a gift box at to select gifts matched to a child’s specific age and gender, then finish packing the virtual shoebox by adding a photo and personal note of encouragement.