Operation Christmas Child sends smiles, blessings around the globe | VailDaily.com

Operation Christmas Child sends smiles, blessings around the globe

EDWARDS — Of all the gifts in his Operation Christmas Child shoebox, 12-year-old Pascal was most excited about a flashlight, or torch, as he called it. He has to go outside to use the toilet, and he really wanted a flashlight to use at night.

His first flashlight is even green, his favorite color.

Millions of children around the world receive Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts, even in war zones near Mosul, Iraq.

Thousands of those boxes start right here in Eagle County, where Calvary Chapel Vail Valley has been a collection center for at least a decade.

The Calvary Chapel site, on the Vail Christian High School campus in Edwards, collects boxes from Glenwood Springs, Steamboat Springs, Summit County and just about anywhere else in this region.

What you do

Recommended Stories For You

Lisa Chaple rode herd on the local project this year. She says she loves kids and loves Christmas, so running the regional Operation Christmas Child was a natural fit.

Biblically speaking, Chaple's heart is willing but her flesh is another matter. She injured her shoulder and needed some help loading boxes and cartons.

Residents had until Monday to turn in their boxes. The semi-truck carrying them to Denver left Monday afternoon and unfortunately it's not coming back until next year.

Participation was not complicated.

1. Open your box.

2. Put kid-type stuff in it: school supplies, hygiene items, toys and notes of encouragement.

3. Bring it to Calvary Chapel Vail Valley in Edwards, or sweet talk someone else into doing it for you.

4. They put the boxes in cartons and packed them into the semi-truck.

"From there they're loaded onto ships, planes, trains, elephants and camels or whatever it takes to get them to the children," Chaple said.

Lots of local churches participated in the effort, along with a few schools and other groups.

Last year — the 10th year Operation Christmas Child had operated in Eagle County — they collected 983 boxes from Eagle County, and 2,241 boxes from around the Colorado high country.

"We're trying to break those records this year," Chaple said prior to the Monday deadline.

Donors who have shipped of their boxes can go online see the Follow Your Box option. They will get a tracking label so they can follow a box to its destination.

Samaritan's Purse

Operation Christmas Child is one of Billy and Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse ministries, is the largest program of its kind in the world and is unabashedly Christian. Operation Christmas Child is the world's largest Christmas project of its kind.

Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 135 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 150 countries and territories.

That's 11.2 million boxes last year — 8.7 million from the U.S. This year's goal is 12 million.

It's about the children

For many shoebox recipients, their Operation Christmas Child gift is the first present they've ever received.

In Zambia, for example, the Samaritan's Purse national leadership team works with children living in poverty whose families can barely meet their basic needs, much less provide toys or presents. About 600,000 children, 5 percent of Zambia's population, are orphans.

Eight-year-old Emma lives in Zambia with one of her mother's relatives. She sees her dad so little she doesn't know what he does to earn a living.

Emma attends a community school near her village. Community schools are for students who can't afford the nominal fee or uniform cost to attend a local government school. Most community school teachers have little training and are paid only a small stipend.

Her favorite items in her shoebox were pink hair clips and a bar of soap. Emma has never had hair clips.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

Operation Christmas Child

Shoebox-sized gift boxes packed with toys school supplies, hygiene items, and notes of encouragement are collected locally at Calvary Chapel Vail Valley on the Vail Christian High School/Vail Academy campus in Edwards. They’re shipped around the world by Samaritan’s Purse.

Pack your own shoebox, or pick one up at Calvary Chapel, 31621 Highway 6, Edwards, CO 81632. Call 970-926-3880

The deadline is 1 p.m. Monday.