For Niki Carpenter and family it’s Christmas in November thanks to Operation Christmas Child.
Carpenter, who moved with her family to Tipp City last year, has participated in the international Operation Christmas Child program since her childhood through the family church in Wellington, Fla.
As a parent, she continues that tradition with husband Matt Carpenter and children Nathan, 6, and Emma, 4.
“We believe that through giving we receive so much more. We want to raise our children to always give, to be kind and compassionate,” Carpenter said. “The Bible verse, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’ is something we as a family, live by.”
Operation Christmas Child’s mission centers on gift-filled shoeboxes given to children in need around the world. Boxes are provided by volunteers in the United States and several other counties.
The program is run through Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief organization headed by Franklin Graham. The goal this year is to reach 12 million children, according to the organization’s website.
In the United States, the gift boxes were dropped off between Nov. 14 and 21 at collection sites across the country. The shoeboxes are filled with hygiene items, school supplies, toys and notes of encouragement, among other things.
The Carpenters have a small business, Carpenter Country Creations. At this year’s Yuletide Winter’s Gathering earlier this month, they donated 50 percent of sales to their shoebox project. Niki Carpenter said Terri Bessler, a downtown merchant, matched her donation along with another woman who had heard about their project. A bigger effort will be coordinated for next year, Carpenter said.
The shoeboxes were contributed by the Carpenters as a family and by their business.
Carpenter said Operation Christmas Child is a great program. “I love everything about it. I love that these children are always so excited to receive these boxes,” Carpenter said.
“I love that we can shop for these children, and pick different gifts, allowing our children to help pick items and fill these boxes to see and get a better understanding of what it is that we are doing and why.”
The boxes are divided into three age groups and the Christmas Child organization offers online lists of suggested items to buy. The organization website also offers options for donating directly and creating a box online.
“Operation Christmas Child is absolutely incredible. I encourage everyone to check out their website and see what they can do to help. Even if it is just a small donation, it is going to an incredible cause,” she said.
For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, call 1-800-353-5949 or visit samaritanspurse.org/occ.