“I shop year-round for it,” she said. This year, “I found a big sale at Safeway and cleared them out.”
After Safeway found out what she was shopping for, the company donated thousands of dollars worth of items for the shoeboxes, she said.
She stored the items in her basement and garage. To get help filling the shoeboxes, she organized four packing parties at the homes of neighbors and friends.
She said her involvement in the program has taken on a new meaning since she became a mom: She wants her daughters to do good, too. Baylee helps her family with the project, her mother said, by helping raise money and buying items for the boxes.
“She really understands what’s going on,” Bree Taggart said.
Operation Christmas Child is run by Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian ministry group. Since the organization began distributing gifts in 1993, millions of Christmas shoeboxes have been delivered to children in more than 100 nations, organizers have said. People in the U.S., Austria, Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Spain, Japan and the United Kingdom all donate gift boxes to the cause.
From Felida, the boxes will be shipped to a Samaritan’s Purse warehouse. Each box is inspected, and volunteers remove perishable or breakable items before the boxes are sent overseas. Items that wouldn’t be accepted in other countries are saved and donated to charitable groups in the U.S.
At Felida Bible Church, 3027 N.W. 119th St., donation collection began Nov. 14 and ends 6 p.m. Monday. Before Sunday, the church had received more than 7,900 gift boxes. By 3 p.m. Sunday, they had at least 1,000 more.
Tears gathering in her eyes, Wisner described how excited children living in poverty are to receive the smallest of items, even something as simple as a pencil.
“They may have never had a gift in their entire life,” Wisner said.
Felida Bible Church volunteer Jenni White said receiving such a large donation on Sunday was “energizing.”
“It’s for children,” White said. “Everybody’s heart gets touched when they provide something for a child.”
Before the Taggart family left, they were invited to gather around their shoeboxes and pray alongside volunteers. The group asked that the boxes be protected during shipment and that each child who receives a gift “be blessed with the love that went into packing it,” White said during the prayer.