Ministry volunteers push through pandemic; millions blessed

Thursday, May 27, 2021
Michael F. Haverluck (

Operation Christmas Child processing centerBreaking from their traditional Christmastime methods of delivering tangible blessings, volunteers with Operation Christmas Child adapted their ministry outreach to send 9.1 million shoebox gifts in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual program run by Rev. Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse continued to serve afflicted and needy children around the globe while many other relief organizations shut down their services over health and safety concerns, reports CBN News.

God'people deliver … year-round

Refusing to let the pandemic get in the way of blessing children, more than 270,000 Operation Christmas Child volunteers in the United States – along with another 570,000 around the world – kept on working through the pandemic to make sure millions of children were touched by God's love.

Inside each box prepared by the nonprofit Christian organization based in North Carolina is an array of toys, school supplies and hygiene products, along with a small booklet that shares the gospel of Jesus Christ – a message that is desperately needed by children … especially in the midst of the devasting worldwide pandemic.

"This has been a difficult year for many children around the world," Graham told CBN News. "More than ever, they need to be reminded that God loves them, and He hasn't forgotten them. I thank God for the incredible team of volunteers who serve year-round to share the hope of the gospel with children – one shoebox at a time."

Some 7.8 million of the 9.1 million shoebox gifts were collected in the U.S. alone, where 70,000 volunteers manned more than 4,000 drop-off locations, which employed a touch-free curbside system so that donors could bring their gifts without safety concerns.

Testimonies of love

One of the more than 51,000 people volunteering to inspect the gift packages at the eight processing centers in the U.S. said the process united the Body of Christ to do a great work in God's name.

"God used this year to strengthen His Church and lay a strong foundation for future ministry," a volunteer shared. "Although we were apart, we were more unified than ever."

Stepping up in the midst of the pandemic were the young, old and sick alike – who wanted to make sure that children around the globe feel and know the love of God.

"A family of eight in California chose not to receive birthday or Christmas presents so they could shop for shoeboxes – pack[ing] 525 of them," CBN News reported. "Mary Bird, 82, from Cuero, Texas, used Operation Christmas Child to minister to the elders in her church. She transformed her home into a hub for shoebox-packing, where more than 1,000 boxes were stuffed with gifts."

Many with physical afflictions did not allow their pain and discomfort to impede their desire and ability to bless disadvantaged children.

"A Pennsylvania woman with a rare and incurable disorder encouraged everyone – especially young people – to still serve, despite their physical challenges," CBN added. "Amanda Urgolites, 24, dislocates her bones up to 300 times per day, yet she still found a way to sew nearly 1,500 bags, backpacks and aprons for shoeboxes."

Age is also not a barrier to blessing.

"And 104-year-old Ira Miller from West Virginia packed his 1,000th shoebox for Operation Christmas Child this year," CBN noted. "Miller has been packing shoeboxes for the program for many years, but decided to start keeping track when he turned 100-years-old. That year, he packed 100 boxes in honor of his centennial."

Operation Christmas Child is looking past its 9.1 million blessings as American volunteers now endeavor to bless an additional 8.2 million children with gift boxes in time for National Collection Week (Nov. 15–22).


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