On Saturday, April 6, Samaritan’s Purse will be holding “the greatest celebration” the ministry has ever had to thank God and to praise Him for what He’s done through the 100 million shoe box gifts that have been collected for and distributed to needy children around the world.
“We are praising God for providing over 100 million shoe box gifts through Operation Christmas Child since 1993,” says Franklin Graham, President of Samaritan’s Purse. “Every gift is an opportunity to share the Gospel with hurting boys and girls around the world.”
Over the past two decades, Samaritan's Purse has spearheaded the Operation Christmas Child project, which uses simple gift-filled shoe boxes containing school supplies, toys, necessity items and notes of encouragement to let hurting children know God loves them and they are not forgotten.
Operation Christmas Child shoe box gifts are collected from generous kids, families, businesses and organizations in the United States, Canada, Australia, Austria, Finland, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom. They are then hand-delivered by Samaritan's Purse and its national partners to children in more than 100 countries on six continents.
When Graham received the call from Dave Cooke, originator of the program, in 1993 asking for support, he thought 1,000 shoe box gifts would be a good number.
That year, Samaritan's Purse kicked-off Operation Christmas Child in the United States with 28,000 shoe box gifts. That number soared to one million gifts collected in a single year in 1997 and five million collected in 2001. Last year, Operation Christmas Child collected another nine million shoe box gifts and delivered the 100 millionth shoe box gift on December 5, 2012, to a needy child in the Dominican Republic just in time for Christmas.
“God has breathed his blessing on this program, so today we celebrate 100 million boxes and we give God all of the glory,” Graham said after the delivery. “This is about the most beautiful message in the world — God’s love. It means everything in the world to these kids.”
Joining Graham for the “100 Million Reasons to Celebrate” event on Saturday will be special guests who have seen first-hand how God has worked through the ministry. Included are Michael W. Smith, Matthew West, Ricky Skaggs, The Tommy Coomes Band, Dennis Agajanian, and the African Children’s Choir.
“This is going to be a blow-out celebration,” says Graham.
Tickets to the event at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL, are required and can be purchased in advance. Church leaders are eligible for two complimentary tickets.
The celebration kicks off at 7:00 p.m.
Published: April 4, 2013