Operation Christmas Child 2018
As the sunscreen goes away and the thermal vests come out, it seems it’s time to start thinking about Operation Christmas Child (OCC) for 2018.
A total of 321 boxes were collected from Bramhall Methodist Church last year. Although 152 of these were donated by organisations outside the church, that still means you all donated 169 filled shoeboxes, which is a great achievement. These contributed towards a total of over 678,000 being exported by the Samaritan’s Purse charity from the UK to 13 countries in Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, via 51 lorries and 21 containers.
Assuming that people may wish to donate a filled shoebox again this year, I have offered to co-ordinate the process from BMC again. I will still also be selling some small items for people to purchase for inclusion in the boxes, and will also be selling the flat-packed boxes again (at a cost of 80p this year) in the Welcome area after the 10.00 Sunday morning services. These boxes are doubly beneficial in that a) they do not need covering and b) they will pack into the large boxes at the warehouse more easily. (You may, of course, cover a shoe-box yourself, but please note the lid and box must be wrapped separately.) In view of the incredible festival of flowers starting on 8th November, I propose to start selling on four Sundays, starting on Sunday 7th October. For that same reason, I have had to set the final date for collection of the boxes as Sunday 4th November 2017. (I will not be selling on that Sunday.)
Please note I will not be able to collect any boxes after that date. If you miss the deadline, however, I see from the Samaritan’s Purse OCC website that the Ashlea pub on Manchester Road in Cheadle (SK8 2NP) is shown as being a drop-off point between 1st and 18th November, so you would be able to take yours there if it’s after 4th.
In order for the boxes to be accepted for transportation, their contents have to be checked to ensure they do not contain any prohibited items. With this in mind, may I remind you again what can – and can’t – go into the boxes, please?
The charity’s website emphasises that items must be new, unused and undamaged. Additionally, the website also makes the following suggestions for suitable items to include in the boxes:-
Something with a ‘WOW’ factor, i.e. items that children will immediately embrace, such as dolls or stuffed toys (which must be new and must bear a CE label), toy trucks, deflated football with pump, musical instrument, ball, yo-yo, skipping rope, small puzzles, etc.
Pens, pencils & sharpeners, crayons or felt pens, stamps & ink-pad sets, writing-pads or notebooks & paper, solar calculators, colouring & picture books etc.
Toothbrush and toothpaste*, bars of wrapped soap, comb or hairbrush, flannel. * I see from the charity’s website that 2018 will be the last year that toothpaste can be included, due to increasing Customs’ regulations.
Hat, cap, gloves or scarf (no socks, please), sunglasses, hair accessories, jewellery set, wind-up torch, wrapped sweets* (best-before date must be at least March 2019). NB Mini-bags, such as Haribos, Skittles, etc are not suitable if they do not show the best before-date. * I see from the charity’s website that 2018 will be the last year that wrapped sweets can be included, due to increasing Customs’ regulations.
The website shows the following items must NOT be included:-
Used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, play-soldiers or knives; chocolate or other food items; liquids or lotions of any type including bubbles; medicines; hand-made or knitted stuffed toys (as they don’t bear a CE-label); anything of a political, racial or religious nature; sharp objects; glass containers, mirrors or fragile items; playing cards of the 4-suit variety; clothing other than as listed above. Please note that any items in this list will be removed from the boxes.
These instructions are a) to comply with Customs’ requirements of the countries to which the boxes are going, b) to ensure OCC respects the cultural and religious contexts of those communities and c) to ensure the items packed are in a clean and safe condition for the children receiving them.
I know some people may wish to hand-knit items for packing, so here is the link to some knitting patterns (hats, scarves, gloves, finger-puppets, etc.) on the Samaritan’s Purse website www.samaritans-purse.org.uk/operation-christmas-child-knitting/ . I will print some patterns off and bring them to church on the dates mentioned below for people to collect.
If you would prefer to make a financial contribution to this worthwhile appeal instead of filling a shoe-box, it will be just as gratefully received by the charity. The website indicates the increased project- and transportation-costs of each box is now £5.00, but any contribution would be appreciated. If you could donate on line at www.samaritans-purse.org.uk this would make it a lot easier and safer and saves OCC money too. (If you do donate online, there is a facility for you to find out to which country your shoebox will be delivered.)
For anyone whose time is limited, the facility is available again to ‘Build a Shoebox online’. You still have an element of choice with the gifts you send, but for a suggested donation of £20 per box, you can have it all done for you, with the facility to add a personal letter and/or photo if you wish. For more details, see https://shoeboxonline.samaritans-purse.org.uk/?_ga=2.242413067.808513184.1536946815-408571689.1536946815
We pray for another wonderful opportunity to brighten the lives of so many children to show them they are surrounded by God’s love and to let them know they are not forgotten. It's amazing what a simple gift-filled shoebox can do for a child in need.
It would be fantastic if we could match last year’s total (or – better still – exceed it)!
If you have any queries at all, please do not hesitate to ask.