Greg Reinhardt of Victor will soon experience the joy of Christmas all over again when he delivers gift-filled shoe boxes to needy children in Uganda. Reinhardt will travel to Africa this month as part of a special team with Operation Christmas Child. The group of staff and volunteers, along with Ugandan community and church leaders, will hand out more than 5,000 shoe box gifts to children in schools and churches near Uganda’s capital city of Kampala. Distributions are scheduled for May 22-25.
Operation Christmas Child, the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind, is a year-round project of international Christian relief and evangelism organization Samaritan’s Purse, headed by Franklin Graham. Participants fill shoe boxes with school materials, toys, necessity items, and letters of encouragement for children in poverty around the world. Some 8.6 million gifts were collected for Operation Christmas Child during the 2011 season and are being delivered to children in more than 100 countries worldwide – including more than 100,000 boxes to Uganda. Nearly 800,000 shoe box gifts have been delivered to the country since 1996.
Operation Christmas Child is made possible by tens of thousands of volunteers. Reinhardt resides in Victor and serves as Area Coordinator of the Operation Christmas Child volunteer leadership team covering Missoula, Ravalli, Mineral counties and Lemhi County, Idaho. He has also volunteered at the Orange County Processing Center, where gifts are prepared to be sent overseas. As Area Coordinator, he oversees the collection and promotional efforts of volunteers in western Montana.
“After building shoe boxes for years and working with Operation Christmas Child year round, I am thrilled to be able to witness this final stage of the shoe box journey,” said Reinhardt. “Seeing the children open their boxes on this trip is an answer to my personal prayer and will bring one more part of the project home to our community. Hopefully, the report I bring home will encourage others to fill more shoeboxes, touching more children’s lives around the world.”
The shoe box packing effort, requiring months of organization and preparation, is expected to bless over 9 million children this year suffering the effects of natural disaster, disease, war, terrorism, famine, and poverty. In 2012, Operation Christmas Child anticipates reaching a milestone—collecting and delivering shoe boxes to more than 100 million children since the project began in 1993. Through the power of a simple gift and the message of hope through Jesus Christ, children learn they are loved and not forgotten. For many of these children, the shoe box will be the first gift they have ever received.For more information or to order free materials about Operation Christmas Child, call 1-800-353-5949 or visit www.samaritanspurse.org.