By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Operation Christmas Child gathers gifts for those in need
Volunteers with Operation Christmas Child load donated gifts to be transported for shipping to need children all over the world. Lakewood Baptist Church in Gainesville is collecting donations through Nov. 21 for the annual Samaritan’s Purse project.

Operation Christmas Child

National collection week, Nov. 14-21

Where: Lakewood Baptist Church, 2235 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville


Monday 4 p.m to 8 p.m.

Tuesday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Wednesday and Thursday 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Sunday 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Monday, Nov. 21 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

More info:

Ordinarily shoe boxes are disregarded as a byproduct of a purchase, but for thousands of needy children, they’re the main attraction.

With the help of Operation Christmas Child, and collection centers like Lakewood Baptist Church, those under-appreciated containers are getting in the proper hands.

Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelical organization under the leadership of Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham.

"Lakewood is a regional, collection hub for all of Northeast Georgia," said Jim Lee, collection center coordinator.

"The other closest collection sites are in Athens, Atlanta and Woodstock.

"Last year we collected 15,000 boxes, so our goal this year is to collect at least that many again."

Participating in the project is simple. First you should decide if your box will be for a girl or a boy and whether it will fit one of three age ranges: 2 to 4, 5 to 9 or 10 to 14. The shoe boxes, or a like-sized plastic container, should be filled with school supplies, toys, personal hygiene items and a note of encouragement.

Suggested items include T-shirts, flashlights with extra batteries, balls, jump ropes and things to write with and on. If you include candy, it should be things that won’t melt and should be double-bagged. Mild bar soap is also acceptable, but it, too, should be placed in two bags.

Items that should not be included in the boxes include: food, out-of-date candy, lotions, liquids, vitamins, war-related toys, aerosol cans or glass objects.

A complete list of instructions are available on the Samaritan’s Purse website.

The packed boxes can be wrapped, but that’s not a requirement. If you do wrap your box, you should wrap the lid separately, so that the container can be checked at the distribution center in Atlanta.

When you drop off your box, Operation Christmas Child organizers also request that you include a check for $7 per box to help with shipping and other project costs. It should be made out to Samaritan’s Purse, with "OCC" in the memo line. The check should be placed in an envelope and secured on top of the box with a rubber band.

If you make your donation online, you are given the perk of knowing exactly where your package ends up. When you make an online payment, you’re given a barcoded label to print off and attach to each of your packages.

The barcode is linked to your email address. Once the barcode is scanned in the destination country, Operation Christmas Child staff will email you to let you know where it ended up.

National collection week for the project begins on Monday and ends Nov. 21. The site at Lakewood church, 2235 Thompson Bridge Road in Gainesville, will be open morning and afternoon hours throughout the week.

Although groups and churches from all across Hall and surrounding counties will be dropping off donations at Lakewood, individuals are also welcome to bring contributions.

"This is our third year serving as a collection site," Lee said.

"From here, we’ll pack the donations up on a truck to take them to Atlanta where they will be sorted and distributed all around the world."