In 1993, Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham got a call from a man in England asking if he’d be willing to fill shoeboxes with gifts for children in war-torn Bosnia. Franklin agreed, but he forgot until he
got a call back around Thanksgiving asking about the gifts.
Franklin turned to Pastor Ross Rhoads of Calvary Church of Charlotte to see if he could help with the need. A Sunday shortly afterward, Pastor Rhoads demonstrated for his congregation
how to fill a shoebox with simple gifts and encouraged them to include a letter to the child as well. Within weeks, the church had 11,000 shoeboxes lining their hallways.
Due to their generosity and additional gifts from Canada, Samaritan’s
Purse sent 28,000 shoebox gifts to children in the Balkans that Christmas.
Every year since, Samaritan’s Purse has collected shoebox gifts filled with toys, school supplies, and hygiene items for children around the world. Since 1993, more than 178 million
children in more than 150 countries have received an Operation Christmas Child shoebox. The project delivers not only the joy of what, for many kids, is their first gift ever, but also gives them a tangible expression of God’s love.
Tens of thousands of volunteers from local churches around the world partner with us at festive outreach events where children are surprised with these shoebox gifts.
This whole process is made possible by caring individuals who pack shoeboxes
full of quality gifts for children in need. Many of these shoebox packers also use our online Pack A Box feature to discover the country where their gift will be delivered.
More than 700 year-round volunteers also get the word out about the Samaritan’s
Purse project across Canada. In addition, short-term volunteers serve in nearly 400 drop-off locations open across the country every year during National Collection Week, the third week in November. Each shoebox collected then travels to our Calgary processing
center to be inspected and prepared for international shipment by 15,000 volunteers.
In 2019 alone, more than 10.5 million Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts were collected throughout Australia, Austria, Canada, Finland, Germany, New Zealand,
Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.