SEQUIM — Looking for something to do from her home as the COVID-19 pandemic grew, Sequim resident Lori Esget began putting together some holiday cheer months in advance.
Esget has filled 43 shoeboxes with her original crafts as gifts for children 2-14 years old living in difficult circumstances across the globe.
Her efforts are part of the Samaritan’s Purse project Operation Christmas Child (OCC).
“I wanted to do something for someone else rather than sit home and be depressed during these past months,” Esget said.
For younger girls, she crocheted bassinets and blankets for small baby dolls she purchased. For boys, she consulted her husband, Jim, and brother, Howard.
“I also asked friends and children to test my ideas, Esget said. “My question always was, ‘how can I make this something fun to play with?’”
In addition to the unique craft toys, each of her shoebox gifts contained art or school supplies, hygiene items, clothing and a personal note to the child who will receive the gift.
“My small start grew into lots and lots of shoebox gifts,” she said. “I recognize how important it is to reach kids who are in difficult situations from my experience as a counselor.”
The OCC project dates back to the summer of 1993, when Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham received a call from a man in England asking if he’d be willing to fill shoeboxes with gifts for children in war-torn Bosnia.
The first year, Samaritan’s Purse sent 28,000 shoebox gifts to children in the Balkans that Christmas.
Every year since, Samaritan’s Purse has collected shoebox gifts filled with toys, school supplies and hygiene items for children around the world, according to the organization’s website (samaritanspurse.org). Since 1993, more than 178 million children in more than 150 countries have received an Operation Christmas Child shoebox.
Esget has filled OCC shoebox gifts for the past 12 years.
“Using my skills to be productive for this ministry during my downtime touches my heart,” she said. “It combines things I absolute love — Christmas, crafting and helping children — with serving God to help humanity.”
All shoebox gifts this year begin their journeys during National Collection Week set for Nov. 16-23.
Locations and times for the Sequim drop-off location, as well as other nearby drop-off locations, will be available soon at samaritanspurse.org/occ.
For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child or about how to pack one’s own OCC shoebox gift, call 360-509-4338 or visit samaritanspurse.org/occ.