In her second year serving as a relay center coordinator for the Samaritan's Purse ministry, she is overseeing the county's drive at Cartersville First Baptist Church from Monday to Nov. 22. The local collection center is expected to receive nearly 3,000 donations that will be dispersed to children across the globe living in dire conditions ranging from poverty to war-torn areas.
"It touches my heart every year," Durham said. "I love to see videos after the kids have received [the shoe boxes] and to hear stories. I can't watch any of those without crying. Seeing the kids' faces ... [they] just catch your eye and capture your heart. They were so happy and so grateful and so appreciative.
"One thing I love the most about it too is I love that kids can get involved in this [volunteer effort]. It's so tangible for them. It's a project they can be involved in. My own kids and the kids at our church love to do this. They understand it. They know they're helping other kids somewhere else. It's just something they have fun with."
As Bartow residents join other volunteers across the world, Operation Christmas Child is seeking to collect and disperse more than 8 million shoe box gifts to children residing in 100 countries. Next week, Cartersville First Baptist at 241 Douthit Ferry Road is serving as a drop-off site Monday to Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon; and Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. On Monday, Nov. 22, items are going to be accepted from 9 to 11 a.m.
After selecting the gender and age category -- 2 to 4, 5 to 9 or 10 to 14 -- of the child, contributors need to fill a shoe box or small plastic container with hygiene items, school supplies, small toys and, if desired, a personal note and a photograph of themselves. A $7 donation is required to cover shipping costs. Further details, such as a list of suggested items, can be found at www.samaritanspurse.org. Participants also can utilize the website's EZ GIVE option, which enables donors to pay their shipping cost online and track their shoe box's destination.
"For each shoe box that's filled that goes out to different countries around the world, that represents a child realizing that somebody cares about them. And it also represents an opportunity for that child to know who Jesus is," said Dawn Schaffer, collection center coordinator for the Georgia Highlands region, which includes Bartow County. "For many of these children, this will probably be the first time they've ever received a gift of any sort.
"More often than not these shoe boxes are going into countries that have been torn apart by natural disaster [or a] war that's been going on. For some of them, they have never known anything but war going on around them [or a] very high level of poverty because of the circumstances that their countries might be in."
For more information about the local collection site, call Cartersville First Baptist Church at 770-382-4994.