Operation Christmas Child, a project of international Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, will open three drop-off sites in the Enid area Nov. 18-25 for people to deliver gift boxes for children in the developing world.

Operation Christmas Child delivers special shoeboxes filled with gifts, along with Christian evangelism, to children in in 160 countries and territories.

Janice Burns, regional church relations coordinator for Operation Christmas Child, said the non-denominational effort is a way for local Christians to share love with children in need around the world.

“It’s giving a tangible gift of God’s love to needy children all over the world,” Burns said, “and it’s an opportunity for them to get to know Jesus.”

Burns said Operation Christmas Child is not meant to replace Christian or nonprofit efforts to provide for long-term needs in the developing world, such as sustainable income, clean water and food production. She said it’s meant to show children living in hard conditions someone loves them.

“This is a church-to-church ministry,” she said, “so churches in these areas can have a way of outreach for kids and for communities who have never heard about Jesus.”

Since each child receives a gift box only once, Burns said the program doesn’t negatively impact local businesses.

“What’s important is that child receives a gift, a gift of love,” Burns said, “and many of them have never received a gift before in their lives.”

While the collection drive centers around the Christmas season, deliveries of the boxes happens all year long. Burns said most of the boxes collected in Oklahoma go to Mexico, South America and Central America.

Individual boxes are available to be picked up at Ruth’s Christian Bookstore, 3502 W. Garriott; Hobby Lobby, 610 S. Cleveland; and Chick-fil-A, 4329 W. Garriott.

Once boxes are filled, they can be returned between Nov. 18-25 to one of three collection sites:

Bethlehem Baptist Church, 7100 S. 66th, Enid

Nov. 18-23: 1-4 p.m.

Nov. 24: 2-4 p.m.

Nov. 25: 9-11 a.m.

For more information, contact Janice Burns at (580) 554-6162

Westminster Church, 2217 Constitution

Nov. 18-25: 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

For more information, contact the church at (580) 237-7770.

Chick-fil-A, 4329 W. Garriott

Nov. 18-22: 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Donors who drop off Operation Christmas Child boxes at Chick-fil-A will receive either a free chicken sandwich or chicken biscuit.

Burns encouraged local churches and families to use Operation Christmas Child as a teaching opportunity for children and teens.

“It’s a great way to teach children about Christian giving and the whole concept of ministry,” she said.

Participants can “build” their own gift box online for a $9 donation at samaritanspurse.org/buildonline, selecting gifts matched to a specific child’s age and gender, then track the progress of their gift box on the Samaritan’s Purse website.

Some items are not allowed in Operation Christmas Child boxes: candy; toothpaste; gum; used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives, or military figures; chocolate or food; seeds; fruit rolls or other fruit snacks; drink mixes (powdered or liquid); liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers; aerosol cans.

Suggested gift items, broken down by gender and age, are available at https://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/what-goes-in-my-shoebox-sugges tions.

“The most important thing you can pack into that shoebox is prayer,” Burns said, “for the child, for the volunteers and for the shoebox to arrive exactly where it’s supposed to be.”

Burns has set a goal of Northwest Oklahoma collecting 21,580 boxes this year, up about 4.5% from last year’s collection of 20,648 gift boxes.

For more information on Operation Christmas Child, visit https://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/opera tion-christmas-child.

Recommended for you