GLADSTONE - The task of reaching 100 million children throughout the world with a message about Jesus's love for them along with a Christmas present begins with one box at a time.
The annual Operation Christmas Child: Christmas in a Shoebox campaign is underway throughout the area and churches, classrooms, families and individuals are rising to the challenge and preparing shoe box gifts for youngsters in third world countries.
According to Delta County OCC coordinator, LuAnn Lindquist, there are 1.9 billion children in the world, estimated, with only 6 percent of those living in the USA, and less than .01 percent of those live below poverty level here in the USA. That is just not the statistics of the rest of the world. Even though the USA has 6 percent of the world's population, Americans own 75 percent of the world's wealth.
OCC: Christmas in a Shoebox was represented with a booth at the U.P. State Fair in August. Pictured are Bonnie Sanville, Shirley Harrell, and Gay Kleikamp.
After the shoeboxes were collected locally, a number of area OCC volunteers took the boxes to the processing center in Minneapolis, Minn. Making the trip were Linda Shumard, Gay Kleikamp, LuAnn Lindquist, Stella Ecklid, and Mary Kaluza.
"Is it equal?" Lindquist asked. "Hardly, but there are even homeless people in Chicago who are busy making shoebox gifts for third world countries. They truly understand what it is like to be without."
Lindquist said children actually do receive 100 percent of the gifts given.
"The children receiving these boxes have never ever received a gift for their birthday or Christmas before...ever!" she said. "And the salvation message of Jesus Christ has been translated in over 80 different languages. This is include in the boxes which are delivered to over 130 different countries."
Lindquist said the impact of receiving a shoebox filled with even the simplest items is astounding.
"In Uganda, a box of 16 crayons costs $5 U.S. dollars," she said. "The average salary for a father there is $1 per week. When a child opens a shoebox gift with a box of 16 or 24 crayons, can you imagine the impact? They want to know who, and why these gifts can be sent to them, and many come to know Jesus over a box of crayons."
In addition to boxes being shipped all around the world, shoebox gifts are collected for disasters in the U.S., as well - for hurricane, tornado, flood and fire victims - children who have lost everything.
Shoeboxes will be collected at Grace Church in Gladstone from Monday, Nov. 12 to noon Sunday, Nov. 18. Drop-off sites also include Ferdinands, Pioneer Kitchens, and Exact Eye Care in Escanaba; Hannahville Convention Center (ATTN: Kelly Tovar); or call LuAnn Lindquist at (906) 280-3584.
"They can let me know if they need a shoebox or they can even buy a plastic one," Lindquist said. "Many of the children use these as dresser drawers or even to carry water."