By Terrica Hendrix
More than 17,000 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child were collected in Nashville and the surrounding area.
“We collected 17,327 shoeboxes in our area,” Southwest Arkansas Coordinator Beverly Starr said. The shoeboxes were collected Nov. 13-21 in Nashville, Ashdown and Horatio.
The last 18-wheeler was sent off Tuesday, and the boxes are at the Processing Center in Grapevine, Texas, where they will be inspected for inappropriate items, such as candy, toothpaste, liquids, any food products, or war-related toys. Every single box is inspected, Starr said.
There are processing centers in Atlanta, Ga., Minneapolis, Minn., Orange County, Calif., Boone, N.C., Charlotte, N.C., Denver, Colo., Baltimore, Md., and Hawaii. The center in Charlotte “is the largest one and processes about 2 million shoeboxes,” she added.
The international goal is 12 million boxes for 2017.
“Volunteering at a processing center really does give the big picture of Operation Christmas Child. Anyone who is 13 years or older can volunteer there.
We had a lot [of volunteers] during National Collection Week. Both Sunday afternoons, men from the community, along with some of the Howard County Jail inmates packed several thousand shoeboxes into two 28’ trailers,” Starr said.
“Then the Mineral Springs Amish Mennonite Church helped load as well as the Grace Point Mennonite Church. The Mennonites are a tremendous help to us every year. Then, of course, there are volunteers who work in various areas throughout the week. There are volunteers from our community who work all year shopping, preparing items to be packed, and then packing shoeboxes. The Mineral Springs Amish Mennonite youth worked hard wrapping shoeboxes and preparing Christmas cards to put in the shoeboxes this year. That was a great help to us,” she said.
This year, Operation Christmas Child hopes to collect enough shoe box gifts to reach another 12 million children in more than 100 countries. One shoe box impacts the lives of a minimum of 10 children, so the boxes from Southwest Arkansas are very important, Starr said.