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Be thinking about Operation Christmas Child this summer

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By Josh Shepherd, News writer

Make “Christmas in July” sales a bargain for your holiday giving this year. Summer sales are a perfect time to gather gifts for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.

 Dawn Arnold and Nickie Power, coordinators for Operation Christmas Child in the local area for Samaritan’s Purse, said that people spend too much money on shoebox items if they wait until November.

It’s the same logic smart shoppers use when they buy Christmas gifts in the off-season, Arnold said. Taking advantage of sales allow your charitable dollars to go further.

“Nickie and I have found that the best time to stock up on gifts for the next Operation Christmas Child is in after-Christmas sales,” she explained. Their respective churches, Leesburg Christian and Cynthiana Baptist, have allotted storage space for gifts that they buy early.

That type of extreme advance planning may appeal to project coordinators, but even if participating organizations don’t want to go that far, Arnold suggested that churches and community groups might like the advantage of gathering items in the summer rather than waiting until the holiday season rush.

November is when things get intense, she explained. If participants wait until November to start, they’ll be scrambling to enlist volunteers, buy items,  get shoeboxes stuffed and submitted for shipping.

“People just can’t beat the price of school supplies in the summer,” Power added.

In addition to getting a jump start on buying items, Operation Christmas Child could also benefit from active volunteer coordinators from participating organizations as well.

“It’s never too early to get started on planning. And getting this kind of start can make the November scramble a lot less hectic,” Arnold said.

Operation Christmas Child is one of the most popular charitable giving projects in central Kentucky during the holiday season, she said. 

Many local churches and civic groups participate by gathering items to place in the familiar shoeboxes that are subsequently shipped to children in countries all over the world.

Kentucky is one of the leading states for Operation Christmas Child. Last year, the Commonwealth collected over 196,992 shoeboxes.

Most of those donation were directed toward children in African countries along the Atlantic coast, such as Nigeria and Cameroon.

“It is amazing how much the children appreciate these gifts every year. What many of our children receive in their stocking is all they will receive for a Christmas. And they love it,” Arnold said.

Churches and civic groups talk a lot about the spirit of the holiday season lasting all year long.

Those who would like to get a jump start and make their holiday season one to enjoy, contact Nickie  Power at 588-9425 or Dawn Arnold at 588-0339 to get started.