Expanded Operation Christmas Child fills boxes for kids in need

Halloween hasn’t even come and gone yet, but Diana Tomson is already thinking about Christmas.

Tomson is Operation Christmas Child (OCC) Community Relations volunteer for Hood River, and she’s been hitting the pavement the past few weeks, seeking out businesses and individuals interested in filling one (or more) of the program’s green and red shoeboxes for a child in need in one of 130 countries under the umbrella of Samaritan’s Purse, an international organization chaired by Franklin Graham.

This is a pet project for Tomson, who said the “love and caring of strangers” means more to the children than the gifts inside the shoeboxes.

“These kids don’t have hope,” she said. “That’s mostly what this is about.”

For those not familiar with the program, shoeboxes — either supplied by OCC, or one that is a standard size — are packed with items such as school supplies, toys, hygiene and sometimes even clothing for a boy or a girl, ages 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14. So far, Tomson has over a dozen businesses filling boxes or donating items in the Hood River area: Hogg-Davis (who filled 20 boxes last year), Crompton Dental (donating toothbrushes and toothpaste), One Community Health, Key Bank, AmeriTitle, Hood River News, Pietro’s Pizza, Napa Auto Parts, Windermere Real Estate, Don Nunamaker Realtors, Hood River County Administration, Hood River Stationers, Washington Federal Savings, Hood River Garbage, and American Family Insurance.

OCC collects the shoeboxes on a national level the third week of November — this year, Nov. 17-24 — and in Hood River, drop-off opportunities start Nov. 17, noon to 1 p.m., at Immanuel Lutheran Church, located at Ninth and State streets, or, in the case of businesses, collected by Tomson as soon as they are filled. She’s also requesting a $7 shipping fee be included, the cost to send each box.

For those unable to fill a shoebox, Tomson is collecting monetary (to defray shipping costs) and item donations. For more information or to fill a box, contact Tomson at 541-400-9523.

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