For the average Elkin teenager, summer vacation means pool parties and flip flops, summer jobs and sunscreen. But for local teen Reagan Hooper, 17, summer vacation this year means delivering joy to over 1,000 needy children in the Philippines.
Hooper will learn first-hand the impact a simple shoebox filled with small toys, hygiene items and school supplies can have on a child.
Among hundreds of applicants nationwide, Hooper and 18 other youth were selected to travel as “Samaritan’s Purse Youth” for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hand-deliver shoebox gifts with Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse. Hooper and her teammates will travel to Philippines on July 20, and return to the United States on July 27.
“Operation Christmas Child has always played a huge role in my life,” said Hooper. “From carefully picking out each item to include in a shoebox gift to volunteering at the distribution center.”
In addition to distributing the gifts at five different locations in and around Manila, the participants will be visiting a local orphanage and implementing a variety of work projects.
The Philippines began receiving shoebox gifts in 1998. Since then, over 2.7 million children in the Philippines ages 2-14 have received a gift. In 2013, well over 448,000 children in the country will receive shoeboxes, many of which will be the first gift they have ever received.
Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has delivered more than 100 million gift-filled shoeboxes to needy children worldwide. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the project expects to collect another 9.8 million shoebox gifts in 2013.
For information about Operation Christmas Child, call 1-800-353-5949 or visit www.samaritanspurse.org.