OCC Special Report - Feature Article - Volunteer


Thank You, Volunteers!

Each child, family, and church who lovingly packs a shoebox gift plays a vital part in our worldwide effort to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to boys and girls around the world through the Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child project.

“Thank you, volunteers!” said Franklin Graham, President, Samaritan’s Purse. “We couldn’t reach millions of children around the world each year without you!”

More than 6,000 project leaders across the country volunteer to coordinate their church’s or group’s shoebox packing and collecting. As these gift-filled shoeboxes are dropped off with prayer, several volunteer roles are needed to collect, transport, and inspect the gift boxes before they are sent to help local partners spread the Good News of the Gospel and great joy to children, their families, and their communities in more than 100 countries.

“We couldn’t reach millions of children around the world each year without you!”
—Franklin Graham
President, Samaritan’s Purse

Naomi Faroogh of Markham, Ontario, said serving as a drop-off location volunteer at her church helped her connect with the community: “I had one person come who didn't attend church but wanted to get involved. So I said 'come tomorrow; we need help.'”

Encounters like this are what make Naomi say that serving as a drop-off location “brought life into our church, a sense that God is doing something in our community.”

Hundres of Canadians volunteered at more than 670 drop-off locations open across the country during National Collection Week, the third week in November.

From drop-off locations, shoeboxes are transported to a processing center where teams of volunteers inspect and prepare them for international shipping.

Renee Brinton

Volunteers travel from near and far to help process shoebox gifts, serving in teams to inspect each gift, and package the shoeboxes into shipping cartons.

Serving Together

At the processing center that is part of the Samaritan’s Purse Canadian headquarters in Calgary, Kathy England fo St. Albert, Alberta, likened her volunteering with Samaritan’s Purse to seeing the body of Christ at work.

“At the start of each season, I sometimes think 'what if there are no shoeboxes?' But God never lets us down,” Kathy said. “We see some people every year and get to know them and thank them.”

One of our volunteers at the processing center in Woodstock, Ontario told us “I enjoyed meeting new people who have a happy spirit. I loved seeing people coming from many places uniting in giving, helping, and volunteering.”

After drop-off location and processing center volunteers give of their time seasonally, Operation Christmas Child depends on more than 700 “Connect” volunteers who serve year-round to encourage others to participate in the project. Engaging in roles ranging from logistics to leadership, these volunteers promote shoebox packing when most people aren’t thinking about Christmas, making it possible for thousands of boxes to be collected each year.

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord.”
—1 Corinthians 12:4-5 (ESV)

Year-Round Involvement

Lynda Hagg became a Connect volunteer after Samaritan's Purse did flood relief work in southwest Ontario. She learned about the organization and was intrigued by the Operation Christmas Child volunteer opportunities.

“It just fit for us because we were already packing shoeboxes,” recalls Lynda, who is part of the Operation Christmas Child mobilization team in Windsor-Essex.

Prayer is a vital part of this ministry. Prayer mobilization team members work to involve churches and small groups to pray for the spread of the Gospel and hope of Jesus Christ. They also provide intercessory prayer support for Operation Christmas Child.

“My role is taking time to pray whenever something comes on my heart,” Lynda says. “And praying specifically is amazing because when you do that, you'll see God's hand move.”

“It’s more than just a shoebox … it’s about the Gospel.”
—Jack Hatten

Dianne Calvert, Administration

Jack Hatten, Community Relations

Jill Cobb, Area Coordinator

As millions of shoeboxes are shipped overseas each year, Operation Christmas Child volunteers in Canada and the 10 other “sending” nations hand off the baton to national and regional leadership teams in more than 100 countries. They train, develop, and coordinate partnerships with local churches year-round.

These church volunteers distribute the gift-filled shoeboxes to boys and girls, sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, God’s Greatest Gift. Then, they invite them to learn more about Him through The Greatest Journey, our 12-lesson discipleship program for shoebox recipients.

Additional volunteers from these churches teach The Greatest Journey to help the children learn how to follow Jesus and to share about Him with family and friends.

This past year, more than 2 million children made decisions for Christ through The Greatest Journey! Praise God for how His Word is moving in the hearts of these little ones to seek repentance and salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Volunteers: Ask the Lord to guide your participation in Operation Christmas Child during 2019, praying for church partners around the world as they share the Gospel with millions of children.