Sharing simple gifts with children around the world

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From left, Galloway Girl Scouts Sophia Foster, 6; Avery Wythe, 14; and Leah Foster, 13, help Jackie Anderson load decorated, gift-filled shoeboxes. Sophia, 6, is in first grade at Roland Rogers Elementary School. Her big sister Leah, 13, is a seventh grader at Galloway Township Middle School. Wythe, 14, is a freshman at Pilgrim Academy. Photo by Steve Prisament

ABSECON – In her 20th year with Samaritan's Purse, Jackie Anderson said she still considers the Christmas Child project to be a very personal one.

Since she started in 1993, Samaritan's Purse – managed by Billy Graham's son Franklin – has distributed 94 million shoeboxes worldwide, bringing Christmas presents to children who otherwise would not get any.


The shoeboxes are packed with school supplies, toiletries and stuffed animals by donors who can also contribute $7 toward shipping and have the ability to track their personal gift box. Anderson's garage at 136 E. Wyoming Ave. has been the area's drop-off center for 14 years.

Anderson said she recently heard a woman from Romania speak of her experiences as a child.

“She lived in an orphanage and shared a toothbrush with 12 other girls and had no soap,” Anderson said. “She had very short hair and all she dreamed of was having hair bows and having someone telling her they loved her.”

Then her shoebox arrived one Christmas.

“There was soap and hair bows,” Anderson said. “And a note from somebody she didn't even know – and it gave her hope.”

The story, Anderson said, explains why she says to not take for granted even the smallest gift items.

“I believe that every box that's packed is already destined for a specific child,” she said while setting up her center Friday, Oct. 5. “It's the power of a simple gift. If people are inspired to include a specific item, they should do it.”

To donate, wrap a shoebox so it looks like a gift box, Anderson said, then fill it with personal items and school supplies.

“Always include a small stuffed animal,” she said. “And nothing spill-able, breakable or war-related.”

Pack boxes with items for either boys or girls in ages 2-6, 7-10 or 11-14.

Don't seal them. Close with a rubber band.

“They can go online to,” Anderson said. “Pray about the child that's going to receive that box.”

A retired teacher, Anderson maintains her school contacts for the shoebox project. She regularly makes presentations at area schools and churches. And groups there respond by packing shoeboxes to bring joy to others.

“I have been wrapping shoeboxes all summer and will give out the empty boxes to schools, churches and Scout groups,” she said. “I urge people to write a personal note of encouragement and place it in the box along with a $7 donation to cover shipping. The boxes will go worldwide, and even in our country where natural disasters have occurred.”

Bring packages to her garage noon-6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12 through Sunday, Nov. 18.

Want to come earlier or need a special drop-off time? Have questions? Call Anderson at (609) 646-3614.

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