Despite a year filled with hardships stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, Samaritan’s Purse was able to push forward with its annual Operation Christmas Child event, which works to provide shoeboxes filled with small toys, hygiene items, and school supplies to children across the globe.

“2020 was certainly a challenging year for the ministry. But I’m grateful for our OCC leadership’s determination and encouragement not to pull back or scale down this important ministry, said Dan Jarvis, OCC’s High Country Team Logistic Coordinator. “We were trained to establish certain precautions and practices to assure that our volunteers and donors could engage with one another during shoebox collection week with minimum risks.”

According to Jarvis, the Samaritan’s Purse High Country team has 11 shoebox drop off points spread across seven counties that include Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Avery, Wilkes, Mitchell and Yancy. Typically, these locations are served by 13 year-round volunteers, however during OCC’s national collection week, which took place Nov. 11-23 this past year, these locations are supplemented by more than 60 volunteers. Though numbers were down this year, representatives from OCC were pleased with the turn out and enthusiasm exhibited by volunteers who participated in 2020’s shoebox drive.

“While the overall participation was a little lower than last year, we are pleased with the results of the 2020 Operation Christmas Child collection season. All volunteers and donors were very enthusiastic about being engaged in giving gifts of hope to hurting children,” said Jarvis. “During a time of worldwide lockdown and restricted access, it seemed like a welcome relief to be a part of such an important ministry by bringing the gospel to children through simple shoebox gifts.”

During this past November’s national collection week, volunteers in the High Country collected 17,462 shoeboxes which were then distributed to children in various nations across the world.

Those interested in learning more about Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child can visit www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/. Operation Christmas Child can also be found on social media at www.facebook.com/OCCshoeboxes.

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