Residents, staff, friends and families of Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS) filled 4031 shoeboxes that are now on the way to children in countries like Peru, the Philippines, Rwanda and Ukraine. The boxes are filled with items such as toothbrushes, soap, pencils, notebooks, small toys, mittens, hats and more for children in over 130 countries. In addition, thousands of dollars were raised and collected to cover shipping costs. This annual holiday outreach is possible through Operation Christmas Child, a project of the international Christian relief organization Samaritan's Purse.
In 1994, Lake Minnetonka Shores was the first PHS community to participate in Operation Christmas Child. Over the years, more and more communities took on this meaningful outreach. This year, 32 PHS communities participated, and packing parties were held throughout November, each adding its own festive spirit to collect and assemble boxes. Special appreciation goes to the many residents who knit or crochet hats, scarfs and mittens all year long to add in the boxes. The Farmstead led an intergenerational collection by teaming up with the Mississippi Elementary student council. Residents at Waverly Gardens spent the year building toys in the wood shop. Bargain shoppers at Central Towers remained on the lookout all year for school supplies, small toys, and a big favorite with all ages, stuffed animals. A resident of Newton Manor assisted living at Presbyterian Homes of Bloomington, donated her large collection of Beanie Babies, more than enough to include in the boxes filled at that community for the past 2 years.
PHS residents say they love filling the boxes because they go to children who really love receiving them. There is also a connection that some PHS employees have as they know the OCC boxes are going to their home country.
Since 1993, more than 146 million boys and girls in over 160 countries have experienced God’s love through the power of simple shoebox gifts from Operation Christmas Child. Operation Christmas Child is an international program run mainly by volunteers, with oversight by Samaritan’s Purse, providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Beginning in 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love.
This year Operation Christmas Child will deliver some 10 million personalized shoebox gifts to children suffering from natural disaster, war, terrorism, disease, famine and poverty. They often need the most basic necessities of life. These simple gifts let a child in need know that God loves them and that they have not been forgotten.