Escalon’s “Relay Center” for Operation Christmas Child saw more than 950 boxes move through during the recent weeklong collection effort.
Coordinator Pam Elsholz said final numbers after the last drop off day on Monday, Nov. 22 saw 412 boxes donated by the Heritage Church members and 541 more brought in by residents from throughout the greater Escalon area, accounting for 953 total shoeboxes.
The Operation Christmas Child, run through Samaritan’s Purse, collects the brightly colored shoeboxes, which donors pack with small gifts, toiletries, school supplies and more. Many put in a personalized note of encouragement, and the boxes move on from here to be distributed around the country and throughout the world to spread holiday joy and hope, as well as introducing the young recipients to the story of the gospel.
Heritage Church at 1155 Escalon Ave. served once again as the local Relay Center, a drop off point for the boxes.
“Next they go to Manteca where they get put on trailers and then they head to southern California to the processing center,” Elsholz explained of the next part of the trip. “They will be processed and from there they go out into the world.”
She said she wasn’t sure exactly where in the world the local donations would go, but said many people opted to follow their box, logging on to the Samaritan’s Purse/Operation Christmas Child website to be able to see where their gifts go.
Donors choose a boy or girl, an age range, and then take the boxes, do some shopping and bring them back, filled and ready to go.
Among those on hand dropping off boxes on Saturday, Nov. 20 were Girls Scouts of Troop 3359 in Modesto and its young Daisy Troop 3714.
Kat Holliday, leader of Troop 3359, said they have been taking part in the Escalon collection effort since 2014 and they will be back again next year. The Daisy troop was new to the program this year but leaders Ashley Morrow and Leanne Shoffner said they wanted to stay involved as well.
“It has really gone well,” Elsholz added, with a weeklong collection hitting its peak over the weekend.
A crew of volunteers worked to pack all the shoeboxes for transport to Manteca, and then on to the next leg of the worldwide journey.