BURKE — To a child living in danger, poverty and strife, a 13-by-8-inch box can contain a world of happiness, comfort and encouragement.
And the regional chapter of Operation Christmas Child intends to brighten the lives of thousands of these children this holiday season by giving each of them a shoe box of Christmas joy.
Last year, volunteers in Clinton, Essex, Franklin and St. Lawrence counties donated 6,884 shoe boxes full of toys, gifts and candies for distribution worldwide as part of Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian international-relief program founded by Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham.
“Our goal is to have 7,500 this year,” said Rita Alford, the Operation Christmas Child Northern Adirondack area coordinator in Plattsburgh.
Gift boxes can be prepared for boys or girls and are separated into three age groups: 2 to 4 years old, 5 to 9 years old and 10 to 14 years old.
Donors can send small stuffed animals, dolls, school supplies, combs, hair brushes, hair accessories, jump ropes, balls, Matchbox cars, assorted hard candy, small flashlights, socks, underpants, crayons and coloring books and other small toys.
No toys that resemble weapons, no breakable items or things that spill and no chocolate are allowed or accepted for the children’s shoe boxes.
Personal-care item, such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, bars of soap and a wash cloth, are also accepted and should be packed in plastic bags inside the box.
Collection week for gift-filled shoe boxes is Nov. 18 to 25 at any of the eight regional collection sites.
Donors can either use a clear plastic shoe box to pack their gifts or a standard shoe box, which can be gift wrapped as long as the top and bottom are done separately then fitted together so the box can be opened and checked before it leaves the country.
A $7 donation is asked to accompany each box to cover the shipping costs; checks may be placed in an envelope and set on top of the gifts so volunteers can collect them during package inspections, she said.