For little more than the cost of a large latte, you can make Christmas glow like the holiday lights for the sake of youngsters in poverty-stricken nations. And if you act now, you easily can meet the Nov. 23 deadline of making that happen.

That’s part of the idea behind the annual Operation Christmas Child effort.

Although it is coordinated through the ministry of Samaritan’s Purse and is largely fueled by church volunteers promoting the cause, secular organizations and citizens of all stripes have participated locally and elsewhere, according to organizers.

Last year, local residents shipped 3,328 boxes from the local hub at First Christian Church in downtown Columbus to Bloomington’s Sherwood Oaks Christian Church, and then onward to Samaritan’s Purse’s shipping center in Boone, North Carolina. While that amounts to a lot of generosity, the record is 3,528 boxes in 2013, according to First Christian’s staff.

Story continues below gallery

Here are simple guidelines to join in the giving:

Get one cardboard or plastic shoebox per child you aim to help. If you want to wrap the containers, make sure to cover the lid separately — not as an attached unit.

Decide whether you will pack a box for a girl or a boy, and settle on an age category: 2 to 4, 5 to 9, or 10 to 14.

Select a quality “wow” toy such as a doll, soccer ball with pump, or stuffed animal. Then add other fun toys, hygiene items and school supplies.

Pray for the child who will receive your gift. You can also include a personal note and photo.

Information: samaritans purse.org.

Drop-off days and hours

If your church doesn’t have its own drop-off time, you can bring shoeboxes to Columbus’ First Christian Church, 531 Fifth St.

Here are the days and times during National Collection Week.

Nov. 16: Noon to 7 p.m.

Nov. 17: Noon to 7 p.m.

Nov. 18: Noon to 4 p.m.

Nov. 19: 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Nov. 20: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Nov. 21: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Nov. 22: 1 to 3 p.m.

Nov. 23: 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.