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Spreading love one shoebox at a time
Operation Christmas Child 4
A young girl in Honduras receives a shoebox filled with gifts from Operation Christmas Child. - photo by Photo Contributed

Turlock’s Monte Vista Chapel will soon become a local drop-off point for the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind that spreads good news and great joy to children all over the world.

Operation Christmas Child is a global project through Samaritan’s Purse that delivers shoeboxes packed with toys, school supplies, hygiene items and notes of encouragement to underprivileged children.

“There is darkness and ugly things that happen in this world, but there’s something beautiful about a community that is able to come together and make a positive difference for people all over,” said Heidi Partlow, local coordinator of Operation Christmas Child.

This project has been in service since 1993, and the Turlock project coordinators hope to collect 2,700 shoebox gifts to deliver to children in need overseas.

“More than anything it just brings hope,” said Partlow. “Especially to the areas of the world that have refugees fleeing the country and places like that.”

National collection week for the shoeboxes is Nov. 16 through Nov. 23 and Monte Vista Chapel, 1619 E. Monte Vista Ave., is the local relay center for Turlock.

Partlow explained that from there the shoeboxes are processed in Irvine and then put on cargo containers to be shipped to 150 different countries that participate in this giving project.  Mongolia, the Philippines, Peru, Indonesia and Native Americans in the U.S. will be receiving the shoeboxes from Turlock’s local relay location.

“It’s fun to include a picture of yourself or your family with your address because often times the ministry involved will send you back a picture of the child with the box you packed for them and that’s always really special,” said Partlow.

Participants can build a shoebox online at and make it their own by choosing from a list of gifts and adding a personal letter or photo.

Partlow added that packing a shoebox full of gifts is something that can be fun for the whole family to do during the holidays.

“You can have a packing party and get everyone together,” she said. “It’s a great way to teach children early on to pay it forward; and they learn that we are so blessed here.”

For more information or to become a year-long volunteer, visit