continued Once it is brought to a drop-off site, the box is labeled as appropriate for a specific gender and age range. The boxes are then sent to one of seven warehouses to be sorted, inspected and taped for shipping.
Each box costs $7 to ship internationally. Bonney — who also coordinates the project in Bethlehem with her teenage daughter, Juila — said those who donated boxes can include the funds to ship the box if they wish. The church also does fundraisers throughout the year in order to ship the boxes. The money should be placed in an envelope and attached to the top of each box.
“These boxes could be one of the few gifts these children receive throughout their lives,” said Bonney. “We put these boxes together out of love.”
Some who donate boxes also include a letter to the recipients in order to build a more lasting connection. They are encouraged to include their contact information and a picture of themselves in the box, in case the children wish to thank the donors. The boxes can also be registered online so senders can electronically follow the shipment of their packages.
Since the project’s mission is also about spreading the gospel, a small pamphlet is included in each box to help the children learn about God and the story of Jesus Christ.
In the past, members of Bethlehem Community Church have been given the opportunity to travel as a part of Operation Christmas Child to distribute the boxes. Terry Pilon was able to travel to Uganda last May and meet with children as they opened their gifts.
“Those who have gone said it was a life-changing experience,” said Bonney.
Bethlehem Community Church is seeking both volunteers and donations this year.
Those wishing to donate boxes can do so at the church’s Elm Avenue location in Delmar. Operating hours will be Monday, Nov. 18, through Friday, Nov. 22, from 6 to 8 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 23, and Sunday Nov. 24, from noon to 2 p.m.; and Monday, Nov. 25, from 10 a.m. to noon.
To learn more, visit the Operation Christmas Child website.