November, 2014—More than 5,000 Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes packed by generous Canadians were part of massive airlift of gift-filled shoeboxes that left Baltimore, Maryland for child refugees in northern Iraq on Wednesday, December 10th. These shoeboxes will extend God’s love and joy to children in areas where Samaritan’s Purse has been providing physical relief to individuals fleeing violent jihadists.
About 600 people celebrated the Samaritan’s Purse airlift of 60,000 Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts to northern Iraq at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Braving a blustery cold morning, they saw boxes loaded onto a jumbo jet and heard encouraging words from Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham and others.
“I want to thank every person that’s packed a box. I want to thank every church, every pastor” Graham told the crowd. “It’s my prayer that this plane, and the gifts that it carries, will be used to bring hope to people who have very little hope. It will bring love to people who haven’t experienced very much love. And it’s my prayer, more than anything else, that every child will come to know there is a God, that God does loves them and does care for them, and that He sent His Son from heaven to this earth for us.”
Our local Christian partners in Iraq will distribute the gifts to children who have suffered tremendous loss—bringing a tangible demonstration of God’s love to conflict-weary little ones. Toys, school supplies, hygiene items, and personal notes in the shoeboxes are sure to bring some joy and comfort in this difficult season.
All displaced Iraqi kids have been stripped of their homes and most possessions. Many endured difficult journeys to safety. Some were further traumatized by seeing their parents or relatives killed or taken captive.
“Every year we ask people to pray for the child who’s going to get the box, so as people pack the boxes, prayer goes with the boxes,” Graham said. “This year can you imagine 10 million people praying for 10 million children—what might God do for these children around the world?”
In 2014 Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, will collect around 10 million shoeboxes to be delivered to children in 120 countries. We opened a new shoebox gift-processing center in the Baltimore-Washington area this year and the first 60,000 boxes or so were designated for this airlift.
More than 800,000 people are now in northern Iraq, seeking refuge in camps and unfinished buildings as jihadists of the self-designated Islamic State (ISIS) remain in control of large swaths of their country. Over the past several months Samaritan’s Purse has provided food, water, tents, a power generator, mattresses, playground equipment, kitchen kits, hygiene kits and other relief.
As temperatures fall now in areas around Dohuk and Erbil, our ministry is focused on winterization—offering blankets, coats, children’s clothing, plastic insulation, and other items to displaced families from Christian, Yazidi, and other backgrounds. We airlifted 80 tons of relief for this purpose in mid-October and the last of those items were distributed during the first week of December.
It’s not too late to pack shoeboxes online at PackaBox.ca!
Help families in the Middle East who have been displaced as a result of violent conflict and religious persecution receive the physical and spiritual aid they so desperately need to cope with the resulting poverty and trauma.