Radiant Life Church hosts Operation Christmas Child

Photo by Jody Isaackson Radiant Life Relay Center Coordinator Pat Heck displayed the Operation Christmas Child boxes that were available to Radiant Life members to fill as part of the 2017 charitable program. Other churches, civic organizations and individuals also contribute to the largest Christmas project in the world.

MARSHALL — The gift boxes are out and ready to be filled. Many area churches and youth groups are preparing special gift boxes for Operation Christmas Child.

“Last year, the gifts went to tropical countries all around the world,” Radiant Life Relay Center Coordinator Pat Heck said. “Radiant Life channeled nearly 1,000 gifts from the area churches, civic organizations and individuals. Operation Christmas Child (worldwide) is looking to reach 13 million kids in 2017.”

Beginning last week and going through this coming Monday, the boxes will be going out and coming back in packed with some practical use items, like travel-size shampoo or school supplies, which surround a good-size toy called the “wow” gift.

Project promoters ask that the big item, like a soccer ball and hand pump, be placed in the box first, then edge in the smaller items.

“Small things like pencils, pens and crayons, can be stuffed inside water bottles with lids,” Heck said. “When filled, a rubber band can be placed on the box to secure the lid temporarily. The boxes are shipped to Worthington from here, and from there to St. Paul.”

In St. Paul, the boxes are opened and checked to be sure everything is acceptable and packaged well.

“Then they put a big plastic strap around it to secure it,” Heck said.

She said nothing liquid or breakable is allowed. No toothpaste, no candy, nothing perishable.

“Not even hard candy anymore,” she said. “Besides sharing the word of God, these gifts are priceless to children who do not have anything of their own.”

Most of these kids have never heard about Jesus and most have never ever received a gift of any kind, she said.

The school supplies are very important gifts because the students cannot go to school without them, she said.

There are stickers that come with the boxes or can be downloaded from the Internet and used to denote which kind of gift is inside: girl or boy, and what age group.

“If you go online, you can also get a bar code to track your box,” Heck said. “You won’t know which child got it, but you’ll know which country it went to.”

Operation Christmas Child was established in about 1993, Heck said. It is a program of Samaritan’s Purse.

“It’s the largest Christmas project of any kind around the world,” she said.

Countries that participate include: USA, Canada, Australia, Spain, Finland, Germany, Austria, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Japan and New Zealand.

Anyone with questions about Operation Christmas Child can reach relay center coordinator Pat Heck at 507-223-5076 or call Radiant Life Church at 507-532-3414.