From Kenya to Vietnam, the organization Samaritan’s Purse has helped the world’s poor, sick and suffering. They have provided food, medicine and even gifts for children to thousands in need. Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization and has operated since 1970. Even people who are not Christians are familiar with the story of the Good Samaritan, the source of the organization’s name.
Many children in developing countries will never know what a gift is and few will ever experience having a new toy or even toiletries. Through the assistance of many volunteers, Samaritan’s Purse brings the joy of a toy and some simple life-improving supplies to these disadvantaged children.
One way Samaritan’s Purse helps these children is through a campaign called Operation Christmas Child. With the help of thousands of volunteers, shoeboxes are filled with crafts, toys, clothing, accessories, personal hygiene items, stuffed animals and other things. After being collected, the shoeboxes are dropped off at predetermined collection locations. The shoeboxes are then distributed to children in various countries around the world.
One of the organization’s volunteers is Boyd Campbell, CBET, CRES. Campbell is the co-owner of Southeastern Biomedical Associates Inc. in Granite Falls, North Carolina. He has worked in a few different capacities within the Operation Christmas Child process. He has been an organizer at a local church, collection site team leader and an actual contributor, going shopping for shoeboxes and packing them.
“I first got involved in Operation Christmas Child while I was a youth leader for my church. I had been searching for a mission project and came across this as what I thought would be a small easy project that I could use not only to help others around the world but also as a teaching opportunity,” Campbell remembers.
“I thought about how blessed we are and that even a small amount can possibly go a long way. At that time our community was very economically depressed. We ‘were’ located in the furniture manufacturing capital of the world, and many in the community were without jobs, due to a large number of factories shutting down and going overseas due to cheaper manufacturing. I saw this as a project that would not require a lot of funds; around $10 per shoebox to pack,” Campbell adds.
He says that in the first year, they were able to assemble about 30 shoeboxes that contained items such as school supplies, hygiene products and a small toy. Each year the project seemed to grow. Campbell says that occasionally they would receive a letter back from a child in a foreign country that received a shoebox and that just encouraged everyone to try and do a few more each year.
He explains that there are several steps in the process of getting the shoeboxes prepared.
“The process starts well in advance of collection week,” Campbell says. “There are meetings to attend and getting everything organized. First off, we have to have a location that can handle the capacity of boxes expected and figure out how we are going the get them from point A to point B. Then, we have to get the volunteers in place,” he adds.
Campbell says that the collection center has to be adequately staffed with people to greet those dropping off the boxes, carry the boxes into the collection center, someone to collect all the demographic information, someone to verify the counts and, lastly, people who will pray over each box before it is put into a carton.
“Cartons can be quite a puzzle to put together sometimes; as all different shapes and sizes of shoeboxes are brought in. It starts a little friendly competition as to who can get the most in a larger carton. Somehow, that always turns out to be a competition between the women and the men. While we are all working very hard, it is also a great time for fellowship. Once in the shipping cartons, those have to be transported to a larger facility, where we will pack them onto tractor trailers,” Campbell adds.
Traveling to West Africa
Campbell has not only been able to be on the collection and sending end of the Operation Christmas Child project, but he unknowingly got to witness the distribution of the shoeboxes.
“I have had the privilege of going to Togo West Africa for the past six years and assisting two hospitals with their biomedical needs. It has been a partnership between Southeastern Biomedical and the Dalton Foundation to work with the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE) to equip and repair the medical devices in these two hospitals,” Campbell says.
He says that when he first arrived, there was only one hospital that he worked with, which had two physiological monitors, a couple of vital signs monitors, two anesthesia machines and a few infant incubators.
“I am happy to report that, over the years, this hospital now has two fully operational ORs, an ICU, recovery, neonatal unit, and labor and delivery that are fully equipped,” he says.
“Once or twice a year, myself and Terry Morris with Drager go over and do all their biomed work. It can be a daunting task since the power quality is substandard and not having anyone for a year to do any repairs the amount can be quite extensive to get back up and running. While it does give a feeling of accomplishment when we are finished each year, one of the most touching things I got to witness was a distribution of shoeboxes at a small local church,” Campbell explains.
“I had no idea, when I walked in that Sunday morning, what I was about to see. They may have mentioned it during the service but since everything was in French and the local tribal language, I didn’t really know what was going on. At the end of the service, they asked all the children to come up that had attended Sunday School that morning. The missionary that was beside me was smiling so I assumed the kids were getting some type of award,” Campbell says.
“Little did I know what was going on until I saw these large cartons with ‘Operation Christmas Child’ printed on them. I watched in awe, thinking this is something I always wanted to witness, but not ever thinking it would become reality. It was a joyous, yet at the same time, a sad occasion. The children that received the shoeboxes left with huge smiles on their faces, but there were also not enough shoeboxes to go around, so some of the children left without one. After seeing that it encouraged me to try and do even more,” Campbell adds.
Campbell shares a suggestion for readers who might be inclined to join the Operation Christmas Child effort or another volunteer opportunity.
“I encourage anyone out there to try and make a difference in this world. What may seem small to you can be huge for someone else,” he says. “There are so many opportunities both here and abroad. I have had the privilege to see firsthand the difference a small contribution can make, but even if I never saw it that impact would still be there. There is a feeling of helping our fellow human beings that cannot be described at the end of a project knowing that you may have made some type of difference in someone’s life.”
Besides understanding deeply the old adage about it being better to give than to receive, Campbell has also witnessed this principle in action in others.
“We had a little girl who was about eight years old who had heard about Operation Christmas Child and decided she wanted to use the all money she had received for her birthday so ‘poor kids can have Christmas too.’ We had a family that helped us to place the shoeboxes in larger containers that had not worked with this ministry before, and the next year, they personally assembled and filled over 130 shoeboxes,” he says.
Giving is caring; that can include your time, abilities or money. Boyd Campbell has that figured out and is helping to make a difference in the lives of children in faraway places.
“This past year we collected a little over 8,600 shoeboxes,” he says.
Boyd’s efforts as part of Operation Christmas Child have resulted in thousands of happy children.
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