Hope Amidst COVID-19 through a Simple Shoebox

By Samaritan’s Purse Staff

This year, a global pandemic isn’t stopping families and individuals from packing gift-filled shoeboxes for boys and girls in the far corners of the world through the Samaritan’s Purse project Operation Christmas Child. Children need deep-rooted hope and great joy, now more than ever. Most important, they need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.

So, participants across the U.S. are prayerfully brainstorming ways they can pack shoeboxes with toys, school supplies, and hygiene items, even if the process looks a bit different than it has in other years.

Here are some creative ways that shoebox packers are carrying the mission forward this year despite COVID-19—from socially-distanced packing parties at church to teaching their children valuable lessons about generosity at home.

Prepped and Ready to Pack Calvary Chapel Salt Lake, a church of 2,200 in Salt Lake City, Utah, collects Operation Christmas Child shoebox filler items from local businesses and individuals year-round. They store the items, ranging from shoes and clothes, to flashlights and school supplies, in two shipping containers in their parking lot until it’s time to pack them into shoeboxes.

“Operation Christmas Child is a project God uses to bring kids to Jesus. It’s evangelism, discipleship, and multiplication,” said Alison Long, the Operation Christmas Child project leader for Calvary Chapel Salt Lake. “We need to be bold, we need to be brave, and we need to be a light.”

This year, the church is preparing shoebox bundles—complete with empty boxes and all the quality gifts necessary to pack them—that can be picked up at designated times in October. Families, neighborhoods, groups of coworkers, and friends can pack them at home and then drop them off again during National Collection Week from Nov. 16-23.

Just Family: Social Distancing at Church Since mid-March, Milan Baptist Church of Maynardville, Tennessee, has met for Sunday worship in their parking lot. Even though they are unable to gather in their sanctuary, they are opening up their building for shoebox packing.