Thousands of Shoebox Gifts Head to Northern Iraq

Samaritan’s Purse airlifts shoebox gifts to children displaced by ISIS militants.

More than 5,000 Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes, packed by generous Canadians, were part of massive airlift of gift-filled shoeboxes which departed from Baltimore, Maryland for child refugees in Northern Iraq on Wedneday, December 10th. These shoeboxes will extend God’s love and joy to children in areas where Samaritan’s Purse has been providing physical relief to individuals fleeing violent jihadists.

About 600 people celebrated the Samaritan’s Purse airlift of 60,000 Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts to Northern Iraq at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Braving a blustery and cold morning, they saw boxes loaded onto a jumbo jet and heard encouraging words from Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham and others.

“I want to thank every person that’s packed a box. I want to thank every church, every pastor” Graham told the crowd. “It’s my prayer that this plane and the gifts that it carries will be used to bring hope to people who have very little hope. It will bring love to people who haven’t experienced very much love. And it’s my prayer, more than anything else, that every child will come to know there is a God, that God does loves them and does care for them, and that He sent His Son from heaven to this earth for us.”

Our local Christian partners in Iraq will distribute the gifts to children who have suffered tremendous loss—bringing a tangible demonstration of God’s love to conflict-weary little ones. Toys, school supplies, hygiene items, and personal notes in the shoeboxes are sure to bring some joy and comfort in this difficult season.

All displaced Iraqi kids have been stripped of their homes and most possessions; many endured difficult journeys to safety; some were further traumatized by seeing their parents or relatives killed or taken captive.

“Every year we ask people to pray, pray for the child who’s going to get the box. So as people pack the boxes, prayer goes with the boxes,” Graham said. “This year can you imagine 10 million people praying for 10 million children—what might God do for these children around the world?”

In total, Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, will collect around 10 million shoeboxes in 2014 to be delivered to children in 120 countries. We opened a new shoebox gift-processing center in the Baltimore-Washington area this year and the first 60,000 boxes or so were designated for this airlift.

A Chance to Give Again

At the very beginning of 2014, 60,000 shoebox gifts were sent to Iraq to bless Syrian refugee children fleeing conflict in their homeland. This latest shipment of 60,000 will build on the impact of that earlier airlift—again shining a light in the darkness.

In total, Samaritan’s Purse will collect around 10 million shoeboxes this year that will bring good news and great joy to children in over 100 countries.

“The most important thing is to pray,” Graham said. “We ask people to pray for the child who will get the box. We know God hears the prayer of one righteous person. Can you imagine 10 million people praying for 10 million children? We want the children to know about God, who loves them, who has not forgotten them, who sent His Son from heaven to earth.”

READ MORE: Samaritan’s Purse provides coats and more in Northern Iraq

More than 800,000 people are now in northern Iraq seeking refuge in camps and unfinished buildings as jihadists of the self-designated Islamic State (ISIS) remain in control of large swaths of their country. Over the past several months Samaritan’s Purse has provided food, water, tents, a power generator, mattresses, playground equipment, kitchen kits, hygiene kits, and other relief.

As temperatures fall now in areas around Dohuk and Erbil, our ministry is focused on winterization—offering blankets, coats, children’s clothing, plastic insulation, and other items to displaced families from Christian, Yazidi, and other backgrounds. We airlifted 80 tons of relief for this purpose in mid-October and the last of those items were distributed during the first week of December.


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Please pray for peaceful political transition and an end to the violence in Iraq. Pray for the protection of Christians and others who are being threatened with death. Pray for many to be saved through the work of Samaritan’s Purse and our partners.


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