Operation Christmas Child wraps up 2021 collection

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Volunteers do final packing of the shipping container with Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes Monday at the Breath of Life church in Rice Shopping Center in Lihu‘e.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Michael and Christina Ensman look over the flow of Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes coming in to the Breath of Life church at Rice Shopping Center in Lihu‘e Monday.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Greg Honnold and a volunteer move a load of Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes inside the Breath of Life church at Rice Shopping Center in Lihu‘e Monday.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Christina Ensman and Florence Tavares pack final-hour Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes Monday at the Breath of Life church in Rice Shopping Center in Lihu‘e.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Christina Ensman checks in a load of packed Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes from Tanya Jardin while a volunteer wheels out a load to the shipping container Monday during the final collection at the Breath of Life church in Rice Shopping Center in Lihu‘e.

LIHU‘E — The padlock clicked shut for the final time on Monday afternoon at the Breath of Life church in the Rice Shopping Center.

“Normally my daughters would be with me,” said Tanya Jardin, depositing a load of packed Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. “But they went back to Kamehameha Schools so I’m doing the drop-off. We’ve been doing Operation Christmas Child from the time they were real little. Now we do it when they come home for a school break.”

Jardin was among the flow of patrons bringing packed shoeboxes on the final day of the final collection that started Monday with the arrival of a shipping container outside the church.

Inside the church, volunteers scrambled to pack the contributed shoeboxes into master shipping containers before loading them onto the shipping container.

“These are called ‘toppers,’” Greg Honnold said, holding up shoeboxes that threatened to explode from their contents without the bands holding the cover. The surplus items that overflowed the shoeboxes were put on a table for packing into other boxes. “See how the tops bulge out? We put these on top of the other shoeboxes because no other box can go on top of these.”

Florence Tavares had shoeboxes lined on a table, filling them with surplus items given by people dropping off the completed shoeboxes in a drive-thru, drive-up format in consideration of the COVID-19 rules and guidelines.

Presented by the Samaritan’s Purse Pacific Islands Initiative, the shoeboxes are destined for boys and girls on 1,000 islands across the Pacific. The goal of the Pacific Islands Initiative is to share the love of Christ with more than 500,000 children in the Pacific by 2023, led by local churches and the shoebox outreach.

“Every shoebox gift is an opportunity to reach a child with the gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Franklin Graham, the president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse. “It is about telling children around the world and their families that God loves them. He hasn’t forgotten them. We’re taking the good news to the ends of the earth, and doing it through a shoebox.”

Christina Ensman, the Kaua‘i chair of Operation Christmas Child, said the 1,000 islands destination meant earlier-than-usual deadlines.

The goal for Kaua‘i was 4,000 shoeboxes, with four churches — the Waimea Baptist Church, Crossroads Christian Fellowship, Calvary Chapel North Shore and the Breath of Life Christian Ministries — leading the charge to collect Operation Christmas Child donations.

Hope for any other shoeboxes waned with the light of the setting sun, and the lock clicked on this year’s count of 3,676 shoeboxes, a little short of the 4,000-box goal.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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