The Gonzalez family: Aaron Jacob, Ashlee, Aaron and Sophia.
Coronado resident Ashlee Gonzalez has taken to social media to encourage local residents to act charitably this Christmas season by participating in Operation Christmas Child, a Christmas initiative organized by the charity Samaritan’s Purse. Operation Christmas Child involves packing an unused shoebox with small gifts that are then shipped to children in need around the world in time for Christmas day. National collection of the shoebox gifts is November 18-25, 2013.
Gonzalez captures local residents’ attention by asking the question, “Are you looking for a tangible way to teach your children gratefulness and generosity?” Gonzalez, whose family is participating for their fourth consecutive year writes, “My family, along with many other Coronado families, is participating in an international project called Operation Christmas Child. … It's as easy as donating a pack of pencils and a notebook (many other gift ideas) and/or packing a complete shoebox with your family.”
Gonzalez attends First Baptist Church (FBC), Coronado, located on C Avenue, and is the Coordinator of FBC’s Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group, “We have 50 moms. We meet twice a month on the first and third Tuesday.” MOPS functions as a social, educative, and supportive network for FBC’s mothers, and it also plays a philanthropic role within the community, “Each fall, we work on a community service project, and this year it is Operation Christmas Child.”
Rather than just assemble several boxes herself to send to Samaritan’s Purse, Gonzalez and her fellow MOPS mothers have decided to make participating in this worthy cause as convenient as possible for other Coronado residents by taking on greater responsibility themselves and setting an impressive target, “We are looking to pack and send at least 100 shoeboxes.”
Why 100 boxes? Gonzalez explains, “Last year FBC and MOP packed 65 boxes. When I ordered the boxes they came in a pack of 100, so last year we had 35 boxes left over. This year I want to do everything within my power to make sure every box gets packed…any box left over means a child misses out.”
Samaritan’s Purse asks that volunteers pack a shoebox with a variety of age appropriate gifts. Shoebox gifts can be created for boys or girls, and ages range from 2-4 years, 5-9 years and 10-14 years.
The Samaritan’s Purse website tells the history of Operation Christmas Child, “Since 1993 more than 100 million boys and girls in over 130 countries have experienced God’s love through the power of simple shoebox gifts from Operation Christmas Child. Samaritan’s Purse works with local churches and ministry partners to deliver the gifts and share the life-changing Good News of Jesus Christ.”
Samaritan’s Purse describe their organization as a, “nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan's Purse has helped victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God's love through His Son, Jesus Christ.”
For residents wishing to participate in this charitable event, Samaritan’s Purse has devised a list of suggestions for your shoebox gift:
TOYS: Include items that children will immediately embrace such as dolls, toy trucks, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, jump ropes, balls, toys that light up and make noise (with extra batteries), etc.
SCHOOL SUPPLIES: Pens, pencils and sharpeners, crayons or markers, stamps and ink pad sets, writing pads or paper, solar calculators, coloring and picture books, etc.
HYGIENE ITEMS: Toothbrush, mild bar soap (in a plastic bag), comb, washcloth, etc.
ACCESSORIES: T-shirts, socks, ball caps, sunglasses, hair clips, toy jewelry, watches, flashlights (with extra batteries).
A PERSONAL NOTE: You may enclose a note to the child and a photo of yourself or your family. If you include your name and address, the child may write back.
DO NOT INCLUDE: Used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives or military figures; chocolate or food; out-of-date candy; liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items such as globes or glass containers; aerosol cans.
Help cover shipping and other costs related to delivering your shoeboxes to children overseas by donating $7 for each shoebox gift you prepare. You can also give online to discover the destination of your box.
Gonzalez describes the positive effect participating in Operation Christmas Child has had on her family, “It's been an awesome way to teach my children to give and help them realize how blessed we are!”
Gonzalez welcomes Coronado residents to drop off donations at her residence until November 24. Gonzalez writes, “You can either donate specific items or pack a complete box. I am happy to drop off and pick up boxes and/or items.” MOP mothers will help process and wrap the boxes then deliver them to Coronado’s closest drop off location.
If you would like more information from Gonzalez, you can email her and she will get back to you with details and can also provide boxes if needed.
Alternatively you can participate in Operation Christmas Child by visiting the Samaritan’s Purse website. The First Baptist Church of Ocean Beach will continue to accept shoeboxes until November 25, 2013.
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