BOONE, N.C. (BP)–Operation Christmas Child, the world’s largest children’s Christmas project, became even bigger in 2001. People across North America, Europe and Australia donated some 5.2 million gift-filled shoeboxes, surpassing the goal of 5 million and topping the 2000 total by 1 million.
“We are thankful to have met our international goal,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse. “This is what Christmas is about. We want children around the world to know there is a God who loves them and cares about them.”
Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse. Each year, participants fill shoeboxes with toys, candy and other small gifts. Samaritan’s Purse collects the boxes and delivers them to children who are the victims of war, persecution, poverty, disease and natural disaster. Operation Christmas Child has experienced tremendous growth from year to year, increasing from 28,000 boxes in 1993 to the current 5.2 million.
More than 2.8 million boxes were received in the United States in 2001, exceeding the 2.3 million in 2000. People in the United Kingdom gave 930,000, followed by 713,000 from Canada, 358,000 from Germany, 142,000 from the Netherlands, 106,000 from Australia and 6,000 from Finland.
“The boxes are being distributed to children in more than 90 countries, including the Muslim nations of Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan,” said one of the project’s leaders, David Jacob. “One distribution in Afghanistan took place at a school near the border with Tajikistan. Children who have suffered because of years of drought, war and the repressive policies of the Taliban smiled as they received their first-ever Christmas gifts.”
Samaritan’s Purse is an international relief organization headed by Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham. Samaritan’s Purse was named by SmartMoney magazine (in December 2000 and 2001) as the most efficient religious charity.
Ireland is chief correspondent with ASSIST News Service, www.assist-ministries.com. Used by permission.