Photo courtesy of Operation Christmas Child
Children in Fiji receive shoeboxes filled with supplies and gifts

A project run by an international Christian organization wants Queens residents to take a worldwide trip with a shoebox ahead of the holiday season.

On Friday, Oct. 4, Operation Christmas Child is calling on locals to pack shoeboxes of school supplies, hygiene items and toys for children around the world. According to Samaritan’s Purse, the organization that runs the project, this year’s goal is to pack enough boxes for 12,000 children in need.

Beginning at 4:30 p.m., participants can go to Queens Herald Church in Fresh Meadows to experience the shoebox’s journey from packing to its worldwide impact

The Incredible Journey of a Shoebox event features firsthand accounts of gift distributions in Tanzania including the story of Yves Dushime, who found comfort in his shoebox at age 11 after fleeing the ripple effects of the Rwandan genocide.

Dushime recalls receiving a warm scarf, an item he saw as a promise from God that he and his family would escape life as refugees. Three years later, Dushime and his family moved to Buffalo, New York through a refugee resettlement program.

“This showed me that God can use anything and anywhere to bring hope where all hope is lost,” Dushime said in a video. “These shoeboxes that you pack, not only can they change individual lives but they can also change entire communities like I have seen in my life.”

Samarian’s Purse established Operation Christmas Child in 1993 and has collected and delivered more than 168 million gift shoeboxes to children in more than 160 countries and territories around the world. The project’s mission is to “demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need” and spread the message of Christianity.

“Many of these children have never received a gift before in their lives,” says Regional Area Coordinator Danielle McCarty. “We wanted to share through first-hand accounts how these simple messages of love and hope are delivered and the life-changing impact they have.”

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