Operation Christmas Child is a fun and simple, hands-on project of Samaritan’s Purse that anyone can participate in. Each gift-filled shoe box is used to bless the life of a child living in a desperate situation. When culturally appropriate, children are also offered “The Greatest Gift of All,” an illustrated storybook in their local language explaining how God sent his only son. Children can learn more about having a personal relationship with Jesus through a voluntary discipleship program that is offered.
Operation Christmas Child began on October 10, 1990, when Dave and Jill Cooke of Wrexham, Wales watched a television broadcast about Romanian orphanages. The Cooke’s wanted to do something to help the children living in the orphanages and realized what they could offer was the gift of love. A convoy of nine trucks was filled with medical supplies, food, clothing, and Christmas gifts. The trucks were driven into Romania marking the small beginnings of what is now the world’s largest children’s Christmas program.
In 1993, Franklin Graham, International President of Samaritan’s Purse, adopted Operation Christmas Child as a project of the ministry. Samaritan’s Purse first delivered gift-filled shoe boxes to children in war-torn Bosnia and since then more than 68 million shoe box gifts have brought a message of hope, joy, and love to children in over 130 countries. Last season, 713,294 shoe boxes were collected in Canada and distributed to children in more than 15 countries.