Some of Geneseo's Operation Christmas boxes remain unfilled

Claudia Loucks
For the Republic
Teresa Johnson, Operation Christmas Child coordinator at Geneseo Evangelical Free Church in Geneseo, shows the shoeboxes that still need filled and are available to be picked up at the church, 914 North Chicago St.

The packing party dates are set and the shoebox drop-off dates are in place, but there are still many empty shoeboxes to be filled for the Operation Christmas Child outreach.

Team members are aware the Christmas season is drawing closer and there is a concern of making sure the OCC shoeboxes get to disadvantaged children worldwide.

A display of empty shoeboxes has been set up in the gathering area at Geneseo Evangelical Free Church Empty where people can pick up them up and return them when they are filled. The church will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, with the exception of being closed from 12-1 p.m. Shoeboxes also may be picked up during Sunday church services at GEFC.

A shoebox display also has been set up in the lobby of CIC Your Digital Print Center & Ellie’s Coffee Café, 465 US-6 Suite 3, Geneseo, located between Napa Auto Parts and Goodwill.

People can pick up an empty shoebox at that location and return it there once it is packed and those will be taken to the designated drop off sites.

Packing a shoebox can be done by anyone and the first step is to decide to pack for a boy or a girl in age groups 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14. It’s best to begin with a “wow” item such as a doll, stuffed animal, deflated soccer ball with a pump, toy cars or trucks. It is important to include school supplies and hygiene items such as a washcloth and soap, toothbrush, but toothpaste is not allowed.

Clothing or shoes also can be included in the shoebox as well as fun toys, but no food, candy, liquids or jells.Each shoebox contains a copy of “The Greatest Gift” booklet, a storybook that shares the message of salvation, written in the language of the child receiving the shoebox.

Items that cannot be included in the shoeboxes are anything glass, liquid, camouflage or war-related, or any type of food.

Shelly Emerick, representing OCC, said there also is still a need for monetary donations to help pay the $10 cost of shipping each shoebox. Donations can be mailed to Emerick at 605 East Pearl St., Geneseo, IL 61254, or dropped at the office of Emerick Pest Control, 361 JF Edwards Dr., Geneseo, IL 61254. Donations also can be left or mailed to First United Methodist Church, 302 North State St., Geneseo, IL 61254.

Operation Christmas Child is an outreach of Samaritan Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization. The non-profit organization specializes in meeting the critical needs of victims of war, poverty, disease and natural disaster.

The ministry, which is in its 29th year, uses the shoebox as a tool to open the door for the Gospel and make disciples of all tribes, tongues and nations. OCC started in the United Kingdom in 1990 as an outreach to Romanian Orphans and OCC began in North America in 1993.

Shoebox dropoff dates

Monday, Nov. 14, Tuesday, Nov. 15, and Wednesday, Nov. 16 – 2 to 4 p.m.Thursday, Nov. 17 – 4 to 6 p.m.Friday, Nov. 18 – 2 to 4 p.m.Saturday, Nov. 19 – 10 a.m. to noon.Sunday, Nov. 20 – 2 to 4 p.m.Monday, Nov. 21 – 9 to 11 a.m.

A shoebox packing party will be held Saturday, Nov. 19, at First United Methodist Church, south campus, 224 North State St., Geneseo. You can sign up for the 9 a.m. to noon or 1 p.m-2:30 time slot.