Southern Pine seeks ‘shoe boxes’

Published 8:04 pm Friday, October 28, 2011

Southern Pine Electric Cooperative has been helping children around the world receive gifts at Christmas for several years — all because former general manager Jim Byrd wanted to get involved.
Melanie Harrison, director of communications at Southern Pine, said Byrd’s desire to join forces with Operation Christmas Child has carried on even after his retirement.
“Mr. Byrd heard about the program through his church and came to me and asked how we could get involved,” Harrison said. “We followed up on that seven or eight years ago and have been a drop-off location for the program ever since.”
Boxes will be accepted at all Southern Pine offices from Oct. 31 through Nov. 16.
With thousands of boxes taken through Southern Pine’s four offices, the employees work hard to make sure those boxes get to children in need.
“It takes a lot of work to be a drop-off point,” Harrison said. “We don’t just take the boxes and hand them off to the OCC organization — we prepare them by organizing, sorting and preparing for shipping.”
Harrison said when drop-off begins, a special staging area will be set up to handle the boxes as they come in.
“There is a lot to do to get those boxes ready to be delivered to the children,” Harrison said. “First we log in the boxes and who they are from. The boxes then have to be opened and checked to make sure there aren’t items that shouldn’t be in the box included. We sort by age and label boxes accordingly.”
Harrison said boxes are packed for shipping and delivered to a regional location for transport to Atlanta.
“We usually take our deliveries to a regional site around the Mobile area,” Harrison said. “The packages are taken to Atlanta after that and are prepared to be shipped to about 130 countries around the world. Those boxes are touched by so many people who care about children in those countries.”
Harrison said workers at Southern Pine will be available to take box drop-offs Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Offices in Brewton, Atmore, Evergreen and Frisco City will be take drop-offs during those hours.
“We will take any drop-off people need to make,” Harrison said. “Whether it’s one box or 100, we will get the box to a child.”
Harrison said churches, groups, clubs or organizations who have larger drop-offs are asked to call ahead to make sure adequate assistance can be offered when they arrive at the offices.
Harrison included information of items to be included and/or excluded in the boxes for those who choose to pack a box.
“Because of where these packages are going, there should be no items considered violent in the box,” Harrison said. “No toy guns, knives or anything related to war. Some of these boxes will be going to areas where children have experienced war, floods, the tsunami, tornadoes and other disasters. We want people to keep that in mind as they choose items for the boxes.”
Other considerations in packing a box are: nothing that may leak or melt, hard candies, hygiene items, a toy, book, gloves, socks, etc.
“A $7 donation is requested with each donated box to help cover the costs of shipping the packages to these other countries,” Harrison said. “But, if that donation isn’t possible, bring the boxes anyway. That shipping will be taken care of somehow.”
To find out more about Operation Christmas Child or the Samaritan’s Purse visit their website at or contact any office of Southern Pine Electric Cooperative.

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