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First days bode well for Operation Christmas Child

POULSBO — Just two days into collecting shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, Tracy Wall said 6,000 was beginning to look like a pretty small number.

That is, thanks to the generosity of community members and the donations that had begun pouring in.

“It’s just overwhelming,” commented Wall, the area coordinator for Operation Christmas Child. “By the time we get to this point after trying so hard to get the word out, the outpouring is just amazing.”

The program, through Christian charity Samaritan’s Purse, ships shoeboxes of Christmas gifts to children in impoverished or war-torn countries each holiday season. Last year, the North Kitsap drive, which is hosted by Poulsbo’s Christ Memorial Church and run by volunteers from various local churches, gathered more than 4,700 boxes. This year’s goal is 6,000 shoeboxes. By the beginning of the drive’s second day on Tuesday, more than 1,300 had already been contributed.

Cornerstone Christian Church in Poulsbo had actually made one of the largest donations so far with a contribution of 532 boxes. Wall said members told her they started gathering the raw materials for the boxes months ago, then the entire congregation put the boxes together assembly-line style.

“And it’s not that big of a congregation, so that many boxes is fantastic,” Wall said.

Other large contributions on the first two days of the drive included New Life of Silverdale, which donated 232 and Bainbridge Alliance, which gave more than 130. And just as volunteers were tallying the donations so far, Pastor Tim Nussbaum from Abundant Life Fellowship in Bremerton pulled up with a car full of 111 boxes. Nussbaum, the junior high youth pastor at Abundant Life, said his class of about nine kids alone made 22 boxes this year.

“They really got pumped after they saw the video from Operation Christmas Child and all the smiles on those kids’ faces,” Nussbaum said. “Hopefully next year, I’ll be able to motivate them to do even more.”

Shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child are still being accepted daily through Monday in the Christ Memorial Church foyer. Wall said she felt hopeful that they’d make their 6,000 box goal, especially with Monday being the day that boxes would be dropped off from the several magnet drop off areas that feed into the North Kitsap Drive. Those include Port Angeles, Port Townsend and Silverdale. Wall said Port Angeles reported Tuesday that it already had 300 boxes. But she said any donations large or small are appreciated and she encouraged community members to continue coming through the door with shoeboxes.

“It’s always hard to tell how we’ll do until the very end, so I’m just hoping,” she said.

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