Several Jackson Uptown businesses have decided to help bring smiles to children by supporting the Shoebox Gift Project.
Visit Vanices, Cobblestone Corner, High Street Station, Stitched and Stamped, or Illusions to pick up a shoebox that you can fill with toys and personal hygiene items (or use a shoebox from home or order one online at samaritanspurse.org/occ). Return the filled boxes to these stores with your $9 donation to cover shipping and handling, and you will be entered into a contest to win gift certificates from the stores.
Vanices, Cobblestone Corner, High Street Station, and Stitched and Stamped are offering $50 gift certificates; Illusions’ prize is a $25 gift certificate. In addition to the chance of winning gift certificates, participants are giving smiles to needy children around the world.
“One shoebox equals one smile,” said Crystal Broniste, who volunteers her time in community relations for Operation Christmas Child. “Last year, 11 million shoeboxes were given. Of those, the U.S. gave 9 million. Southeast Missouri gave 16,000. Our goal this year is 18,000,” she added.
Crystal, her husband, Rick, and granddaughter Odalis Zamudio, received a proclamation from Jackson Mayor Dwain Hahs at the Sept. 6 Board of Aldermen meeting. Hahs proclaimed September as “Operation Christmas Child Month” and encouraged all citizens to support the effort so that it can continue to help communities all over the world in times of need.
It is suggested that you put in your box one quality “wow” toy (such as a doll, soccer ball with a pump or stuffed animal). Other gift items may include additional toys, hygiene items and school supplies.
Because these boxes must pass through customs to get into other nations, and may sit in warehouses for long periods of time, the following items should not be included: candy; toothpaste; used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives or military figures; seeds; chocolate or food; liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers; and aerosol cans.
When filled, return the shoeboxes to the Uptown Jackson stores to be included in their drawings. From there, the shoeboxes will be taken to St. Paul Lutheran Church in Jackson. On the third week of November, they will be trucked to one of seven processing centers in the U.S. Ours will go to Denver, CO.
At the processing centers, the boxes will be checked for items that would be stopped at customs. If winter items are included, such as caps and scarves, the boxes are sent to countries that have winter weather. From the processing centers, the shoeboxes are sent by plane and ship to more than 100 countries around the world.
“This is a ministry,” explained Broniste.
A brochure states, “Every one of these shoebox gifts is an opportunity for the Gospel. In the hands of local churches, it is a powerful tool for evangelism, discipleship, and multiplication. Many shoebox recipients also enroll in our 12-lesson follow-up discipleship program.”
“I have such a passion for kids,” said Broniste, who has been volunteering with Operation Christmas Child since March. “This is all volunteer work. This is from the heart. I love what I’m doing.”