Operation Christmas Child collects gifts for needy kids

MARQUETTE — Black Friday is just around the corner, and toys will be flying off the shelves for children young and old, but not everyone is fortunate enough to receive gifts to call their own.

Operation Christmas Child has been trying to change that since 1993.

More than 110 million children in more than 150 countries have been able to experience Christmas through a simple shoebox. Bethel Lutheran Church in Marquette is one of the drop-off sites.

“It is the largest gift ministry to children in the world,” Operation Christmas Child U.P. coordinator Julie Bietila said. “It is used to spread the gospel to every corner of the world, even within the United States.”

Organizers are hoping to collect 2,500 gift–filled shoeboxes across the U.P. The donations collected in the U.P. will eventually reach kids in India, Madagascar and Zambia.

“In the shoebox, we’re looking for school items, personal hygiene items like toothbrush and toothpaste,” Bietila said. “Hard candy and gum are appreciated. There’s also stuffed animals that are very good, and any kind of toy you can think of.”

The drop-off sites are collecting donations through Monday. Here’s where all of them are, along with their collection hours for the remaining days:

Munising Baptist Church, Wetmore
Saturday: 8 a.m. – 9 a.m.
Sunday: 8 a.m. – 10 a.m.
Monday: 8 a.m. – 10 a.m.

Grace Church, Gladstone
Saturday: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Sunday: 12 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Monday: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Bethel Baptist Church, Marquette
Saturday: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Monday: 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.

First Covenant Church, Iron Mountain
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Sunday: 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Monday: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Lagasco, Manistique
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Monday: 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Bethany Baptist Church, Dollar Bay
Saturday: 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Sunday: 12 p.m. – 1 p.m.
Monday: 6 a.m. – 7 a.m.

North Shore Church, Menominee
Saturday: 12 p.m. – 2 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Monday: 8 a.m. – 9 a.m.

Lakefield Baptist Church, McMillan Township (Luce County)
Saturday: 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday: 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Monday: 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. & 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Fireside Gallery, Mass City
Saturday: 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Sunday: 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Monday: 9 a.m. – 10 a.m.

Rudyard Bible Church, Rudyard
Saturday: 9 a.m. – 12 a.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Monday: 6 a.m. – 7 a.m.

Assembly of God Church, St. Ignace
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Monday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

First Church of Christ, Sault Ste. Marie
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Monday: 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Les Cheneaux Christian Fellowship, Cedarville
Saturday: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Monday: 5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.