Thousands of Shoebox Gifts Head to Northern Iraq

December 11, 2014

Samaritan’s Purse is sending a jumbo jet full of 60,000 Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts, with prayers, to children from Syria and Iraq.

Samaritan’s Purse is sending a jumbo jet full of 60,000 Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts, with prayers, to children from Syria and Iraq displaced by this year’s violence, some of which have been sent from the UK as part of a massive airlift. These gift-filled shoeboxes departed from Baltimore, Maryland for child refugees in Northern Iraq on 10 December. 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.

Our local Christian partners 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.

Greta Van Susteren, host of On The Record on the Fox News channel, attended a send-off ceremony for the boxes at Baltimore Washington International airport. Van Susteren has accompanied Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham to Northern Iraq and seen the plight of those affected by violence.

“When these kids get these gifts it will change their lives,” said Van Susteren, who has handed out shoeboxes in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. “I only wish I could distribute them and see those kids get them.”

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

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.”

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 winterisation—offering blankets, coats, children’s clothing, plastic insulation, and other items to displaced families from Christian, Yazidi, Muslim 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.