Operation Christmas Child underway

Marion Marsden, coordinator of the Iron Mountain Operation Christmas Child drop off site, prepares a display at the First Covenant Church in Iron Mountain. Theresa Proudfit/Daily News photo

IRON MOUNTAIN – The First Covenant Church and the Lakeview Bible Church in Crystal Falls are the local drop-off points for Operation Christmas Child.

Area churches, businesses, organizations and individuals contribute to the nationwide program by packing shoe boxes with toys, school supplies, hygiene items and notes of encouragement. Then the boxes are delivered to children in need overseas. Wow items such as a doll, stuffed animal, harmonica are encouraged. One of the most popular items is a soccer ball with manual air pump. Individuals must deflate the ball to be able to fit the item into the shoe box. No guns or military war type items, no food or toothpaste are accepted.

Iron Mountain’s collection will take place this week, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday is the last day to donate because the boxes ship out promtly on Sunday.

“We don’t collect any boxes after that. Fed Ex comes on Sunday morning. This is a volunteer thing for them. They don’t charge us at all. They bring the boxes to Gladstone and from there they are shipped to Boone, North Carolina,” said Marion Marsden, coordinator of the drop off site.

Last year 819 boxes were collected in Iron Mountain. “We are hoping to do 1,200 this year,” said Marsden.

Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has delivered gift-filled shoeboxes to more than 124 million children in more than 150 countries and territories.

For many of these children, a gift-filled shoebox is the first gift they have ever received. Inside each shoebox gift are Gospel storybooks printed in more than 70 languages. “I think its important for us to share the message of Jesus. Its not the contents of this box at all. Its the message we get out to each child,” said Marsden. “This way they learn about the love of Jesus. It’s spreading Jesus’ gospel and this is one way that individuals can do mission work right here at home,” she said.

This year, the Upper Peninsula Area Team, which consist of Iron Mountain, Crystal Falls, Gladstone, Stephenson, Manistique and Dollar Bay, hopes to contribute more than 10,000 shoebox gifts toward the 2017 global goal of reaching 12 million children.

“We are honored to join the nationwide effort to collect gift-filled shoeboxes for children who may have never experienced the true meaning of Christmas,” said regional manager Jenna Lupo. “Through these simple gifts and a message of hope, children learn that God loves them and has not forgotten them.”

Volunteers willing to help pack the boxes can call the First Covenant Church office at 906-774-5611.

Drop-off times at Lakeview Bible Church in Crystal Falls are: 

Today — Noon to 6 p.m.;

Thursday — 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.;

Friday — Noon to 7 p.m.;

Saturday — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.;

Sunday — 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.;

Monday — 10 a.m. to noon.

For more information about Operation Christmas Child, call Judy Hingos at 906-875-3514.

Theresa Proudfit’s email address is tproudfit@ironmountaindailynews.com