COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — For nearly three decades, central Ohioans have been helping deliver Christmas to millions of children across the world.
As you begin filling out your holiday shopping list, one group is once again asking community members to consider a few items for kids in need.
“Christmas is about Christ. We’re just showing the love of God in a tangible, simple way,” says Todd Lotz, a central Ohioan volunteer with Operation Christmas Child.
It’s the largest Christmas project in the world, even though it comes in a relatively small package.
“It’s just packed with your basic toiletry items like toothbrushes, a hairbrush, you know, combs, school supplies,” Lotz describes.
For 29 years, families across the United States have been taking part in ‘Operation Christmas Child,’ a holiday ministry of Samaritan’s Purse that sends millions of gift-filled shoeboxes to children in need overseas.
“The joy on their face,” Lotz smiles. “And not only is it impacting that child, and they see this love from a total stranger, but also the impact it has on the family. It can impact the entire village that they live in.”
Lotz is a North Carolina native, but now a Westerville resident. He’s been volunteering with the project for 11 years — seven of those in central Ohio.
He’s now asking community members to open their hearts, once again.
During National Collection Week, 24 drop-off locations will be open throughout the Columbus area to receive shoeboxes filled with fun toys, school supplies and hygiene items.
Since 1993, they’ve collected and delivered more than 198 million gifts to children in over 170 countries and territories.
“We will be surpassing, expected to surpass, 200-million shoebox gifts,” Lotz boasts. “Think of that. Of all the children around the world, we’re not even reaching every single child. There’s still children out there we’re trying to reach.”
This year, Columbus area volunteers hope to collect more than 50,000 shoeboxes.
Just a small piece of what Lotz says is their 2022 goal of reaching 11 million children in need.
“A shoebox gift. It’s so simple, and yet, it has that eternal impact,” Lotz encourages.
National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child officially kicked off Monday, November 14th, and will continue through Monday, November 21st.
For tips or questions on how to fill a shoebox or support their mission, or to find a drop-off location near you, you can visit their website here.