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“Let the little children come to me . . . for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  --Matthew 19:14

Prepare for Christmas and spread Calhoun love around the world!

Local volunteers are collecting simple shoebox gifts personally packed by children, families and individuals for the World’s Largest Christmas Project. Calhoun and Roane counties hope to collect 1,300 boxes that will be sorted and sent to suffering children around the world.

Local churches and organizations are participating in this ministry of sending more than eight million personalized gift-filled shoeboxes to children in some 90 countries suffering from natural disaster, war, terrorism, disease, famine and poverty.

Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child, a project of the international Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, has delivered more than 54 million gift filled shoeboxes to needy children in 120 countries.

Here are the instructions:

Use an empty shoebox of standard size, or a plastic shoebox. These can be covered with a holiday paper, but is not required. The box and lid should be wrapped separately.

Designate whether the box is for a boy or a girl, and an age range of 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14 years. Labels are available at participating groups, the Chronicle office, or the web site.

Include an “anchor gift,” such as a doll, ball, game, small wallet or purse, and a note and/or self photo. Each box should also contain some hard candy.

Fill the rest of the space with items selected from the following list:

Toys: small cars, balls, dolls, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, jump ropes, small Etch-a-Sketch, toys that light or make noise (extra batteries), slinkies, etc.

School supplies: pens, pencils, sharpener, crayons or markers, stamps and ink pad sets, writing pads or paper, solar calculators, coloring and picture books, etc.

Hygiene items: toothbrush, toothpaste, mild bar soap (in a plastic bag), comb, washcloth, etc.

Other: hard candy and lollipops (double bag all candy), mints, gum, T-shirts, socks, ball caps, sunglasses, hair clips, toy jewelry, watches, flashlights (with extra batteries).

Personal note: In a separate envelope, you may enclose a note to the child and a photo of yourself or your family. If you include your name and address, the child may write back.

Do not include: used or damaged items, war-related items such as toy guns, knives or military figures, chocolate or food, liquids or lotions, medications or vitamins, breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers, or aerosol cans.

Enclose $7 by check for each box to cover processing and distribution costs. Participating organizations will have printed forms to send with your donation. Turn in your shoebox to your church, organization or the Chronicle office by Friday, Nov. 9. Your box will be processed by volunteers and sent to its destination to be distributed through local overseas churches and charities.

 Your shoebox will be hand delivered to a child in need, asking nothing from them in return. All boxes are given to the neediest children regardless of nationality, political background or religious beliefs. Operation Christmas Child empowers local overseas partners to ensure that your shoeboxes are delivered with the highest levels of integrity and respect. Where appropriate, and in culturally sensitive ways, local overseas partners will make available a booklet of Bible stories, which gives a message of hope and includes an explanation of the true meaning of Christmas -- God’s gift of His Son, Jesus.

Encourage friends at your church, school or workplace to get involved. Your gift will encourage a child in ways you could never imagine.

For information call Rosemary McDonald, local collection center coordinator, 354-9220, your local church, the Chronicle office, or visit www.samaritanspurse.org.

This Week's Editorial:

By Helen Morris:

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