Volunteers quickly scurried and began to get ready for the arrival of another batch of shoeboxes, all in response to Operation Christmas Child Santa Clarita Valley area coordinator Bob Dobes cupping his hands and yelling, “We have a delivery!”
This shoebox isn’t a delivery for himself, but a delivery for a child somewhere across the world.
“It’s almost mind boggling, that impact will be on the other side of the world,” said Bob.
Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child has had its place in Santa Clarita for many years now. The Sanctuary Church, 26444 Friendly Valley Parkway, has been participating for five years and this is the second year that they have been hosting the event as a drop-off location.
“I just think it’s a great way, with really minimal work on our part, to get the word of Jesus out to areas that have never heard it before,” said Bob.
Operation Christmas Child is a project that spreads the gospel through the donation of shoeboxes filled with toys and necessities to children in more than 170 countries and territories across the world.
Bob and Linda Dobes knew that this project was special and were especially reminded when they watched local children packing up shoe boxes for children less fortunate than them.
“My first love for the shoe boxes was watching the kids,” said Linda. “Little kids packing a shoe box, for someone their age on the other side of the world, and it comes right before the holidays, so that it kind of gets the focus off of receiving, ‘What do I want?’ but to talk to them about what the shoe box means.”
“To take such a simple little fun thing to us, an easy thing to do with kids, then you take that and share the stories of the impact of the shoebox, (it) always leaves me in tears.”
Going from participating in the project to hosting has entailed Bob and Linda Dobes collecting twice the number of boxes they had prior and gathering twice the number of volunteers to help. Their volunteers are more than willing to donate their time.
Even on Wednesday morning when two were unable to make it, two stepped in right away.
Packing up shoeboxes, 16 by 16 in a large donation box, leaves the volunteers knowing exactly what they are doing at the collection step. But with these shoeboxes being shipped worldwide, the personal connection to those who receive the shoeboxes can feel a little out of touch.
Every year Linda includes a yarn octopus that she makes in her shoeboxes. On the most recent newsletter from Operation Christmas Child, she got to see a child holding one of her yarn octopuses as a complete surprise and coincident.
“She actually saw something, a tangible little octopus in a village somewhere in the middle of nowhere,” said Bob. “It brought her to tears.”
Last year, The Sanctuary Church collected 2,336 shoeboxes over National Collection Week. Nationally, Operation Christmas Child collected 9 million physical boxes and 2 million online shoeboxes.
Currently The Sanctuary Church has collected 586 shoeboxes. They will continue to accept packaged shoebox donations until Nov. 21.
For more information on Operation Christmas Child and The Sanctuary Church’s drop off schedule, visit bit.ly/3AlWqZf.