BOONE, North Carolina: Through roller coasters and shoeboxes, Herschend Family Entertainment is bringing smiles to the faces of children across the U.S. and abroad. Partnering with Operation Christmas Child, Herschend leads an annual Shoebox Challenge: churches register to receive complimentary attraction tickets based on the number of gift-filled shoeboxes collected by their congregations. Since 2011, participants have contributed more than 2 million shoebox gifts to children in need through the Shoebox Challenge, earning more than 45,000 complimentary tickets to participating theme parks and attractions.
“The heart of Herschend Family Entertainment is to help children make lasting memories and bring families closer together,” said Jason Blain, vice president of strategic alliances for Herschend. Blain traveled with Operation Christmas Child to Haiti in 2011 to deliver gift-filled shoeboxes. “When I saw the faces of the Haitian children light up as they opened their shoebox gifts, I knew this was exactly the type of project Herschend would want to get behind.”
Though park guests may be familiar with Dollywood and Silver Dollar City, perhaps not all are aware of the depth of faith and family commitment that drives the Herschend Family Entertainment brand. For more than five decades, Herschend has been committed to treating guests and associates with the Christian values of kindness and service. The partnership with Operation Christmas Child is just one way they demonstrate that faith. Herschend’s commitment to sharing the true message of Christmas won Dollywood’s Smokey Mountain Christmas the title of “Best Christmas Event” by Amusement Today.
Registration is now open to any church that wishes to participate in the Shoebox Challenge. For more information, visit shoeboxchallenge.com.
Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 135 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 150 countries and territories. In 2016, Operation Christmas Child hopes to collect enough shoebox gifts to reach another 12 million children.
National Collection Week is Nov. 14 – 21, when some 4,500 local drop-off sites will be open to receive shoebox gifts; however, shoebox gifts are collected year-round at the Samaritan’s Purse headquarters in Boone, North Carolina.
Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
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