Samaritan's Purse wants to recognise the involvement of hundreds of thousands of people in the UK, from all walks of life, over many years, who helped Samaritan's Purse reach an historic milestone, that of delivering its 100 millionth gift-filled shoebox.
To mark this achievement, the charity followed the journey of one particular shoebox, wrapped and packed by children from a London school, to an eight-year old boy in Ecuador, thousands of miles away in South America.
Since 1990, through Operation Christmas Child, Christian charity Samaritan's Purse has been providing these simple gifts in Christ's name to needy children in over 100 countries.
The journey of this particular shoebox began last September, when Samaritan's Purse President, Franklin Graham, helped pupils from Christ Church Primary School in Spitalfields to wrap and pack their shoeboxes. After Franklin spoke to the pupils about the impact these gifts have to children around the world, they presented him with a gift-filled shoebox wrapped in 'Union Flag' wrapping paper and asked him to give it to a child who most needed it at Christmas.
Franklin responded: 'Thank you so much. I will definitely personally deliver this. I know they will be so blessed by not only this box but the prayer you've sent with this.'
Franklin later fulfilled that promise when he travelled to Ecuador and delivered this special gift, in person, to an eight-year old boy named Kevin in a very needy part of Quito, Ecuador.
Kevin lives across the street from Casa Victoria, a neighbourhood after-school project run by Samaritan's Purse. Casa Victoria is located in one of the older, more historic homes in Quito. It's a beautiful home set in a very depressed part of the city. The need in this area is great and the children are constantly passing through. So when Franklin arrived and gave Kevin his Union Flag wrapped shoebox all the way from London he was "so, so happy" and was visibly grateful to the children at Christ Church Primary School who packed it.
Head of the school Sarah Mears said the children were so excited to hear that Kevin received their actual box: "This was an excellent opportunity for the children to understand that there are children who have a lot less than them and that they can help to make a difference in other people's lives."
Some of the Year-6 pupils who helped to wrap and pack the box that Kevin received in Ecuador couldn't contain their excitement.
Rafiah said: "I was gob smacked that the box we actually packed went all the way to Ecuador to Kevin. I am happy that he got it and liked our gifts." Abdal, who helped pack several boxes, added: "I wanted to choose gifts that would be good in school and help them with their education. Muhaymin added: "I felt very excited and wanted to show my love in the box!"
Samaritan's Purse UK Executive Director, Simon Barrington praised the efforts of Christ Church School and the many thousands of people across the country who helped Operation Christmas Child deliver its 100 millionth shoebox:
"I would like to thank all the pupils and staff at Christ Church School and everyone else throughout the UK, individuals, organisations, churches and schools, who helped us reach our 100 millionth shoebox goal. For many of the children receiving shoebox gifts, like Kevin in Ecuador, this could be the first gift they have ever received. Thank you again to everyone who has taken part in this project, this year and in years past.
"A simple gift, packed with love, can communicate a universal message of hope to needy children wherever they are, that God loves them and cares for them, that He's not forgotten them."
He added: "It took us 23 years to reach our first 100 million, but the programme is still growing and each year more children around the world are receiving gift-filled shoeboxes. So I'm confident we can achieve the next 100 million boxes in 10 years!"
Samaritan's Purse is asking everyone to continue to make a difference to needy children around the world and get in early to support the 2013 Operation Christmas Child campaign. Shoebox World, an exciting, dynamic and interactive programme is open for individuals to wrap and pack shoebox gifts online.
For more information, go to: www.operationchristmaschild.org.uk/shoeboxworld
Operation Christmas Child Facts:
Operation Christmas Child is a global children's project of Samaritan's Purse that uses simple gift-filled shoe boxes containing school supplies, toys, necessity items and notes of encouragement to let hurting children know God loves them and they are not forgotten.
In 2012, Operation Christmas Child reached a significant milestone - delivering the 100 millionth gift-filled shoebox since the project began in Wrexham, in 1990.
Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts are collected in the UK, United States, Canada, Australia, Austria, Finland, Germany, New Zealand, Spain and, for the first time following the 2011 tsunami, Japan.
Samaritan's Purse, through its national partners, will hand-deliver each of the millions of shoebox gifts to children in more than 100 countries on six continents.
SOURCE: ASSIST News Service