OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD
2009 National Collection Week
November 16 – 23
Gifts of Hope
Government officials in Chengdu, China, welcomed the arrival of more than 65,000 gift-filled shoe boxes airlifted by Samaritan’s Purse for children who survived last year’s deadly earthquake.
The Operation Christmas Child gift boxes are for children in the worst-hit areas of Sichuan province, where an 8.0 magnitude earthquake killed more than 69,000 people and left an estimated 4.5 million people homeless last May. The Chinese delegation accepting the boxes included officials from the Ministry pf Education, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Civil Affairs, and the Sichuan Charity Association. They met with representatives from Samaritan’s Purse at Suhangliu International Airport, against a backdrop of 105 tons of shoe boxes.
“When the earthquake struck, Samaritan’s Purse was one of the first to provide materials to help the people of Sichuan,” said Jiaquan Lei, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Education. “And now, almost a year later, you are still here, helping the children. We appreciate your concern.” Speaking on behalf of Samaratin’s Purse, Gary Lundstrom expressed gratitude for the government’s willingness to allow us to airlift the shoe box gifts. “These boxes come from Christian families and children,” said Lundstrom, Samaritan’s Purse International Vice President. “They are sent with love and a prayer that the children who receive them will know that God loves them very much.”
A small convoy of flatbed trucks was parked nearby, waiting to be loaded with gift boxes and taken to children in the quake-stricken region. The gift boxes include a message of hope from Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham. Graham’s message introduces children to Jesus Christ and the offer of salvation expressed in John 3:16.
In response to the 2008 earthquake, Samaritan’s Purse rushed emergency shelter materials, medical supplies, hygiene kits, blankets, and water filtration systems to the disaster area. “Last year, we sent the suffering people of China critical emergency aid, and now we want the children of that region to know that they aren’t forgotten,” Graham said. “We hope these gifts will be a source of hope as they continue to rebuild their lives.”
Since 1993, more than 68 million gift boxes have been given to children in need in 145 nations through Operation Christmas Child.