Operation Christmas Child kicks off for the holidays

FLUSHING — Starting next Monday, Mayfair Bible Church in Flushing will be accepting Christmas gifts to pack for children in need all across the globe.

Since 2016, Mayfair Bible Church has participated as a gift drop-off location for Operation Christmas Child, a nationwide program that collects and distributes gifts to children outside the United States who have been affected by war, poverty, natural disaster, famine and disease. Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization, coordinates the initiative with help from thousands of drop-off locations and distribution partners throughout the U.S.

Dan Neumann, the Operation Christmas Child Drop-off Location Coordinator at Mayfair Bible Church, said that his congregation is aiming to pack 4,000 shoeboxes full of gifts. The church will be accepting the shoebox gifts from Nov. 18 to Nov. 25.

“The shoeboxes that we collect in Flushing will be added to those collected in Genesee, Oakland, Macomb and Shiawassee counties,” he said. “Our four-county goal is 32,500 (shoeboxes), and our national goal is 9.1 million this year.”

Last year, Mayfair received over 3,800 shoeboxes to pack for Operation Christmas Child. Neumann said that gifts were sent to over 100 countries, with shoeboxes from Mayfair being included in shipments to Ghana, Madagascar, Togo, Uganda, Rwanda, Philippines and Tanzania.

“We are excited to brighten the lives of children all around the world with a shoebox gift,” he said. “Many children have never received a gift before. Just think what it would be like to know that someone from far away cared enough to send a gift like this.”

Operation Christmas Child also serves as a tool for the key evangelistic and outreach purposes of Samaritan’s Purse.

“In addition to hearing the Gospel before they receive their shoebox gift, children also receive ‘The Greatest Gift,’ a storybook that shares the message of salvation,” Neumann said. “After receiving shoebox gifts, many children are invited back to participate in a discipleship program, The Greatest Journey.

“Through this 12-lesson course, which includes Bible stories and Scripture memorization, they learn how to follow Christ in their daily lives as they share Him with friends and family,” he added.

Throughout Operation Christmas Child’s National Collection Week, Mayfair Bible Church will have volunteers at its front door to greet donors, unload gifts and pray over shoeboxes that are being dropped off.

Shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child should each be filled with a toy, such as a soccer ball or a doll, along with games, crafts, school supplies and personal care items like soap, a hair brush and a tooth brush. Items to avoid packing include candy, gum, liquids or lotions, war-related items (i.e. toy guns, knives, or military figures) and breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers.

Visit www.samaritanspurse.org/ operation-christmas-child/drop-offlocations/ to find hours of operation for drop-off locations and other details. Mayfair Bible Church is located on 5339 West Pierson Road in Flushing.