Sumter group misses goal, still collects Operation Christmas Child boxes by the thousands


The regional coordinator for an annual Christmas project to send shoeboxes filled with gifts to children overseas is pleased with this year's effort and new volunteers who contributed, even though the area fell short of its collection goal.

Jill Harvell, regional collection center coordinator for Operation Christmas Child, made her comments Wednesday after 10,285 gift shoeboxes collected from four area counties departed on two truckloads from Sumter to the organizer's processing center in Boone, North Carolina.

Samaritan's Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization that leads the Operation Christmas Child effort, will now process the gift shoeboxes collected from several states at its North Carolina facility and distribute them to children in more than 160 impoverished countries and territories.

Despite missing its goal to try to collect 13,000 total shoeboxes in the service area of Sumter, Clarendon, Lee and Williamsburg counties this year, Harvell is choosing to look on the bright side, she said.

"It went well, and I was pleased," Harvell said of the 10,285 total collected at the regional hub at Westside Baptist Church. "That's 10,000-plus families that are going to be blessed. It is a little disappointing not to get your goal, but you have to trust that the Lord knows who needs to get boxes and knows the number that's needed."

Harvell said she was also pleased with the number of new volunteers who helped out this year at Westside's regional collection center. Volunteers came out to the church every day during the eight-day collection period, she said, especially on Sunday and Monday, which were the busiest days.

When the effort has new volunteers, those individuals are more likely to contribute in the future by donating shoeboxes and promoting the annual project themselves, if they aren't doing so already, Harvell said.