Scottsdale resident selected to deliver hope, joy to Rwanda

Cheryl Johnson delivers gifts to children in Rwanda. (submitted photo)

During the month of May, Scottsdale resident Cheryl Johnson joined a small and special team to deliver shoebox gifts to children in Rwanda with Samaritan’s Purse, sharing a message of encouragement, hope and love through the project Operation Christmas Child.

Ms. Johnson volunteers year-round as the Scottsdale Area Coordinator for Operation Christmas Child, mobilizing others in the community to pack and collect shoebox gifts filled with toys, school supplies and hygiene items for children in need overseas, according to a press release.

Having spent more than six years volunteering for this local project with a global impact, the experience of personally placing gifts into children’s hands was uniquely meaningful. On top of that, as a country still in recovery from a history of genocide and trauma, Ms. Johnson fell witness to the inspiring stage of Rwanda’s cultural recovery.

“I watched as a young boy excitedly opened his shoebox gift. But it wasn’t until his mom came over and beamed looking at the school supplies filling the shoebox that it became clear just how meaningful these items would not just to him, but to the both of them,” Ms. Johnson said in the press release, recalling one of her stops.

“Having been part of this trip, I hope more than anything to continue sharing my excitement and make our community aware that these simple shoebox gifts do make a huge impact on a child’s life.”

This year, volunteers across the greater Phoenix area hope to collect more than 84,000 shoebox gifts from local area churches, groups, and residents. Since 1993, more than 936,000 children in Rwanda have received Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts and this year more than 117,000 children will receive gifts.

Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts are collected across the Phoenix area during the project’s National Collection Week, Nov. 13 – 20. Anyone can participate by filling shoeboxes with fun toys, school supplies, hygiene items and notes of encouragement and drop them off at participating local collection sites.

For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, call 303-745-9179 or visit

(submitted photo)

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