SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)–Community members are sending Christmas gifts around the world, in shoeboxes.
It’s national collection week for Samaritans Purse’s Operation Christmas Child. There are collection sites around the state gathering shoeboxes packed with toys and necessities for kids in need around the globe.
The Culver family has been packing Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes for several years.
“We brought ten today, we are still working on four more at home. We actually like to just collect things year round and get things on sale so we can make more boxes,” said Rodean Culver.
They have a method to picking out the perfect gifts.
“We put basic necessities like soap and a toothbrush and stuff like that and then we also put like toys and stuffed animals and T-shirts,” said Ellie Culver.
“We got a lot of legos for this year to put in the boxes,” said Andrew Culver.
Last year, there were nearly 22,000 shoeboxes collected in eastern South Dakota and northwest Iowa.
“What we really love to see is the variety of people that are coming. We’ve got churches, we’ve got individuals, we’ve got ladies who just all year they are shopping for shoeboxes. then we’ve got grandmas and they come and say ‘my grandchildren helped me do this’,” said Lucie Oygard, with First Evangelical Free Church.
“It’s just a way to give to a child that you know they are going to love whatever it is you put in there, you can’t make a bad mistake, and it’s a warm feeling that you’ve given something to somebody somewhere who is going to make a smile on their face,” said shoebox packer Vickie Semmler.
Packing a small gift that goes a long ways.
“I would just recommend everybody do this. But do it with your kids, your grandkids, a neighborhood kid, something so it’s a giving that they grow up with,” said Semmler.
“The profound effects it has on the people we have met that receive these boxes,” said Rodean. “One young lady still had the shoebox that the gifts came in, as a 20-something-year-old adult living in America and that just I think really drives home how much difference this program makes.”
If you want to pack a shoebox, you still have time. The last day to drop off is Nov. 21. If you need a shoebox to fill, you can pick one up at the First Evangelical Free Church in Sioux Falls or at other locations across the state. You can find the complete list here.