From left, Deidra Libby, Operation Christmas Child Southern Ohio Area Team Church Relations Coordinator and Luis Gonzalez, Former Shoebox Recipient. Submitted photo.

MEIGS COUNTY, Ohio — As the new school year approaches, Deidra Libby is working on a lengthy school supply list, not for herself, but for children in need overseas. Looking forward to the tax holiday, August 2-4, 2019 and utilizing back-to-school sales, Libby is collecting school supplies, along with hygiene items and fun toys, to pack in shoeboxes. Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, will deliver these gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 100 countries.

For many children, access to these simple items is essential to an education—as it was for Luis Gonzalez, a shoebox recipientraised by a single mother in the ghetto of Panama City, Panama. 

“I know what it is like to not have enough money for basic school supplies,” said Gonzalez, whose experience is not uncommon for many children living in poverty. One day, Gonzalez received a gift-filled shoebox from Operation Christmas Child and found it filled with the school supplies he needed. “My shoebox gift gave me the opportunity to pursue an education and taught me to never lose hope. These gifts can truly impact a child’s life forever,” said Gonzalez who has shared his life-changing shoebox story in our area.

As evidenced by Luis’s story and the stories of countlessshoebox recipients, “School supplies are very important for your shoebox,” said Deidra Libby, who has volunteered in Southern Ohio as the Church Relations Coordinator for 13 years. “Many of the children cannot go to school because they don’t have school supplies. Please pack school supplies,” implored Libby. 

For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, join Miss Libby, and Southern Ohio Area volunteers, at the “All Things Shoeboxes” Workshop at the First Baptist Church in Gallipolis on August 6, at 6 PM.

Southern Ohio Area Team Coordinator Sherrie Klingaman is also available at 740 395-6468 to answer your questions, or visit samaritanspurse.org/occ. Participants can donate $9 per shoebox gift online through “Follow Your Box” and receive a tracking label to discover its destination. Those who prefer the convenience of online shopping can browse samaritanspurse.org/buildonline to select gifts matched to a child’s specific age and gender, then finish packing the virtual shoebox by adding a photo and personal note of encouragement.

Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world and, together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 168 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 160 countries and territories.