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Churches participate in Operation Christmas Child to help children worldwide

How can a shoebox containing school supplies and personal hygiene products make a difference for a child?

According to Pahrump’s Michele Grabely from Trinity Assembly of God Church, all the difference in the world.

Grabely’s church is one of eight local churches participating in “Operation Christmas Child,” where the items and supplies are sent to children in need around the world.

Operation Christmas Child and the nondenominational organization Samaritan’s Purse provide spiritual and physical aid to people around the world.

According to its website, since 1970 Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet the needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease and famine.

The organization was founded by the Billy Graham Association.

Their purpose, Grabely said is to share God’s love and promote the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The drop-off deadline this year is between Nov. 14 and Nov. 21.

“People can either wrap the shoeboxes with Christmas paper and people can fill them with school supplies, hygiene products or even little toys,” she said. “My church, Trinity Assembly of God is the relay center for the Pahrump community.”

Once the supplies and products are donated, church members, Grabely said, hold what’s known as ‘packaging parties’ to stock the shoeboxes.

From there, the boxes go to California, where they will then be shipped out to different countries around the world.

“There’s approximately 150 countries that we ship to,” she said. “The shoe boxes also make their way into parts of the United States for many Native American reservations. In 2015, on the west coast, approximately 608,000 boxes were packed and shipped.”

Grabely said Pahrump did more than 1,400 boxes last year, which helped Las Vegas and Southern Nevada collect a total of 15,000 boxes for 2015. The goal for 2016 is to increase the boxes to 19,000 for Southern Nevada.

The event is open to everyone regardless of religious affiliation.

“Whatever donations people can provide we will gladly accept, including cash” she said. “Aside from the school and hygiene supplies, people can also send a little toy if they wish, as long as it fits inside the shoe box.”

Additionally, Grabely noted the importance of the boxes to children around the world.

“For some of these children the boxes are the only thing they will get for the entire year so it’s very important to them,” she said. “Last year and again this year they are going to some of the refugee camps over in the Middle East. A lot of those children have been displaced so often that it’s tragic.”

Regarding the Samaritans Purse organization, Grabely said the group regularly participates in other relief efforts, both home and abroad.

“It’s just amazing what this organization does,” she said. “They do disaster relief and were probably one of the first agencies who flew down to Florida and Texas when there was severe flooding in those states. They provide all kinds of supplies in the event of a disaster.

Locally, Trinity Assembly of God is not going it alone on the annual endeavor.

Grabely said several other churches in town have agreed to enlist their respective services for the effort, including Amargosa Valley.

She noted additional assistance would be appreciated.

“All are welcome to participate in packing the shoe boxes, including people whose church may not be participating in the program, but would be interested in packing a box for a child,” she said. “Anyone who is interested and would like more information on the program can contact Trinity Assembly of God Church at 775 727-4514.”

Other area churches involved in the program are First Southern Baptist Church, Shiloh Baptist Church, Faith Fellowship, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Pahrump Community Church, Saved by Grace Lutheran Church, and Shadow Mountain Christian Fellowship.

Employees from Lisa Bond Real Estate and Saitta Trudeau Car Dealership are two business who also agreed to participate.

In 2015 the U.S. packed and shipped a total of 8.7 million shoeboxes, with an international participation of roughly 11.2 million.

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

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