|Christmas in July participants stopped by several stations as they packed boxes.|
Hundreds of people from Walnut Creek Church and the Des Moines community gathered together at Walnut Creek Downtown on July 31 to pack 2,000 shoeboxes with gifts for children in impoverished and war-torn countries. All 2,000 boxes were packed in just over two hours.
For the fifth year in a row, Walnut Creek Church partnered with Operation Christmas Child (OCC), a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, to host the Christmas in July packing party. For the second year in row, the gift-filled shoeboxes are being sent to special-access countries, which are resistant to the Gospel and OCC’s efforts. The goal is for the boxes to make a way for the Gospel to get to children who would have little to no access to it otherwise.
The event also raised almost $2,000 for OCC through donations and proceeds from a dinner that was served. When combined with previous fundraising efforts – and an anonymous donation of $7,000 – a total of nearly $12,000 has been raised so far to help cover the cost of shipping the boxes overseas.
New this year, the event featured guest speaker Timur Nesbitt, who received an OCC shoebox – the first gift he had ever been given – as a 13-year-old boy living in an orphanage in Central Asia. Inside the shoebox was a yo-yo, Tootsie Roll candy, school supplies, socks, toothpaste and a letter and photo from a boy in Texas who had packed the box.
“Through the shoebox, I felt loved,” Timur said. “Someone took the time to put in those items that became my favorites. I wondered a lot how Christians who didn’t know me were willing to give me a gift.”
Three years later, Timur was adopted by an American missionary family from Iowa. He learned about OCC and excitedly told them he had received a shoebox gift. Timur plans to return to his home country one day to bring the message of God’s healing love to others who are hurting.
Samaritan’s Purse is an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has hand-delivered more than 100 million gift-filled shoeboxes to needy children in more than 130 countries. To learn more about Operation Christmas Child, visit www.samaritanspurse.org/occ/.
By Tim Laehn
Walnut Creek Downtown