Cordova congregation packs 31 boxes for Operation Christmas Child

Children from Cordova’s Church of the Nazarene are saying Merry Christmas to youngsters in need overseas this year with 31 holiday shoe boxes packed with toys, toothbrushes, wash clothes and more.

Over two dozen young members of the church gathered on Nov. 1 to take part in Operation Christmas Child by filling the shoe boxes provided for the Samaritan’s Purse project. Samaritan’s Purse partners with local churches across the globe to deliver these gifts to children affected by war, disease, disaster, poverty and famine.

Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization that provides spiritual and physical aid to people around the world.

National Collection Week runs from Nov. 12-19 at various locations throughout the nation.

The closest drop-off locations to Cordova include the Anchorage Baptist Temple, Anchorage’s Cornerstone Church and Eagle River’s First Baptist Church.

Operation Christmas Child’s National Collection Week takes place annually during the third week of November, with nearly 5,000 drop-off locations across the country.

Pastor Steve Leppert, who spearheaded the annual project in Cordova, helped the children fill boxes with items including jump ropes, harmonicas, yo-yos, inflatable soccer balls, toothbrushes, bows, soap, wash clothes and more.

On Nov. 3, Leppert and the youth raised enough money during a bake sale to pay for the boxes to be shipped from Anchorage.

Samaritan’s Purse promotes the program year-round and accepts gift-filled shoeboxes at its headquarters at 801 Bamboo Road, Boone, NC 28607.

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Emily Mesner is a staff reporter and photographer for The Cordova Times. Reach her at emesner@thecordovatimes.com. Emily graduated from Central Michigan University, earning a degree in photojournalism with a cultural competency certificate. She first visited Alaska in 2016, working as a media intern for the National Park Service in Kotzebue and Denali National Park and Preserve, and has been coming back ever since. To see more photos, follow @thecordovatimes and @emilymesnerphoto on Instagram.