Franklin County OCC shoebox collections start Nov. 15

by Sean Dunlap

Franklin Countians looking to participate in the 2021 Operation Christmas Child missions outreach to young people are asked to turn in their shoebox donations next week.

Joe Bowlin, who serves as the area’s drop-off team leader, said the local collection effort will be held Monday, Nov. 15 through Sunday, Nov. 22 at Meadville United Methodist Church at 101 First Street South.

Collection hours will run from 2 to 5 p.m., Monday, Nov. 15 through Sunday, Nov. 21 and from 8 to 11 a.m., Monday, Nov. 22.

“Operation Christmas Child collects shoebox gifts and delivers them to children to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way,” Bowlin said.

“For many young people, a gift-filled shoebox might be the first gift they have ever received.”

Bowlin said this year’s intake goal for Franklin County is 1,700 filled shoeboxes — well above the 1,471 collected from individuals, families, churches, civic groups and businesses during 2020.

The project serves as extension of the work of Samaritan’s Purse, a national Christian organization that partners with local church congregations across the United States to collect these unique Christmas gifts and distribute them worldwide. 

Bowlin said the effort is a simple way people can get involved and spread the Gospel message.

“We are so appreciative for the generosity shown by Franklin Countians through the years, and hope they will answer the call to help again this year,” he continued.

“Anyone can participate by packing a shoebox with simple gifts for children — male or female — between the ages of 2 and 14 and dropping off the items that will fit in a shoebox.”

Gifts typically include school supplies, hygiene and clothing items and toys.

No liquids, used or breakable toys or war-related items, such as toy soldiers or camouflage clothing are allowed inside the gift boxes. 

Detailed instructions regarding the packing of shoeboxes (including a “how-to-pack” video) along with appropriate gift suggestions by age and gender can be found online at and selecting the “National Collection Week is Coming” link on the page.

The website also has information on financially supporting the international missions work of Samaritan’s Purse.

The Christmas outreach also includes a 12-lesson discipleship training initiative to help children know Jesus Christ, to follow Him daily and to assist them in sharing His teachings.

In addition, a donation of $9 per box is sought to cover the costs of processing, shipping, handling and distribution. 

“The program’s entire goal is for people to realize who Jesus Christ is,” Bowlin said. 

After packing the gift boxes, Samaritan’s Purse asks givers to pray over the gifts and send them to their local drop-off center.

The boxes will ultimately be transported to more than 130 countries across the globe. 

Operation Christmas Child began in 1993 with a request to fill boxes with gifts for children in war-torn Bosnia. 

More than 188 million children have received an Operation Christmas Child shoebox since that time.

“It’s a wonderful project,” Bowlin added. “We just love it and pray it continues to grow and more people want to participate in the opportunity to have the Gospel proclaimed to children worldwide.” 

For information on the local collection effort, contact Bowlin at 769-244-1440 or Meadville United Methodist Church Relations Coordinator Samantha Sivils at 601-384-2936.