Lake Havasu City volunteers began accepting and distributing boxes this week for this year’s Operation Christmas Child donation drive.
Churches have come together throughout Havasu, Kingman and Bullhead City to collaborate in the annual effort since 2004, collecting thousands of shoeboxes filled with toys, school supplies, letters and prayers to be sent to children around the world. The drive began at Havasu’s KNLB radio station on Monday, and now Havasu residents will have until Nov. 23 to join in.
“My husband and I have been volunteering with Operation Christmas Child for years,” said Assistant Team Leader Tarina Kasputis. “After the collection ends, all of the boxes will be loaded up in Kingman and forwarded to a regional processing center in California. From there, they’ll be sent all over the world.”
Religious organizations throughout Havasu will be participating in the effort this week, Kasputis said. Boxes for donations can be picked up at KNLB radio station, at 510 N. Acoma Boulevard, as well as other locations throughout Havasu. Those boxes can be filled with gender-specific gifts, stuffed toys, hygiene items, school supplies and other gifts from Havasu residents.
Donors are asked not to send candy, toothpaste, used or damaged items, or war-related items such as toy guns, knives or military figures. Items such as seeds, chocolate, food, liquids, lotions, medications, vitamins, aerosol cans or fragile items should be avoided due to customs regulations.
“It’s extremely important to us,” said volunteer Gabbie Kasputis this week. “These gifts go to kids in third-world countries who wouldn’t otherwise have gifts. And sometimes they send pictures back to us, of the kids, and how happy they are to get these boxes.”
But according to Tarina, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has made Operation Christmas Child more daunting this year than in years past.
“This year we’re offering contactless packing – people can pay for someone at the collection center to pack a box for them,” Tarina said. “We also have package tracking now, so people can see where their gifts are going.”
For more information about appropriate (or legal) gifts, or obtaining tracking labels, visit www.samaritanpurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child.
The radio station will accept drop-offs until Monday. For more information about drop-off hours, or how to get a donation box, call KNLB at 928-855-9110.