The Operation Christmas Child shoebox total for Northwest Kansas exceeded its goal for 2019.


Rachel Albin, Northwest Kansas area coordinator, said the region’s total was 8,715 boxes. “We blew way past our goal of 7,363 boxes,” she said.


Of those, 3,154 were packed by individuals in Hays. The city had two drop-off locations this year—one at Messiah Lutheran Church, 2000 Main, and the other at CrossPoint Church, 13th and Harvest Road.


Operation Christmas Child is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief agency headquartered in Boone, N.C. Every year thousands of individuals fill shoeboxes with small toys, school supplies and hygiene items. These shoeboxes are then collected each November and are sent to needy children around the world.


For many children, this is the first gift they have ever received. Each shoebox also contains a booklet called “The Greatest Gift,” which tells children, in their own language, about Jesus Christ and his love for them.


The shoeboxes from Northwest Kansas in 2019 went to South Africa, Ghana, Mexico, and Indian reservations in New Mexico, Arizona, North Dakota and South Dakota, Albin said.


The official number of boxes collected in Northwest Kansas in 2018 was 6,755.


“The 2019 shoebox increase of 29 percent is absolutely incredible,” Albin said, “because that means 1,960 more children will receive a gift this year, and that gift will share love, joy, hope and the promise of a relationship with Jesus.”


Northwest Kansas is part of the Lower Midwest region of Operation Christmas Child. In 2019, the region collected 707,699 shoeboxes. In the United States, as a whole, more than 8.9 million boxes were collected. Internationally, including the U.S., more than 10.5 million boxes were collected.


After the boxes were collected in Hays, they were taken to Oakley, the drop-off point for all boxes in Northwest Kansas. Then the boxes were taken to the Denver Distribution Center. There they were prepared for shipment to their final destinations.


Albin and a group of 16 other volunteers from churches in Hays, Quinter and Phillipsburg, went to Denver Dec. 6-7, 2019, to help prepare the shoeboxes for shipment.


“It is a wonderful experience to work alongside others from all over who love shoeboxes as much as we do and a great time to fellowship together. I love that we are able to see and send these shoeboxes off with love and prayer on this last step as they are headed off to their final destination,” Albin said.


She added that volunteer positions with Operation Christmas Child are available year-round. Those interested in volunteering may contact Albin at (785) 639-1325 or ralbinmk@yahoo.com. More information about Operation Christmas Child is available at www.samaritanspurse.org.