Just before he passed away from Parkinson’s disease, Terry Kiney personally packed 509 plastic shoeboxes full of school supplies, toys and hygiene items for children in over 100 countries around the world through Operation Christmas Child.
“My dad was a wonderfully unique man, and my mother alongside of him. They both just had a heart for children and for the Gospel,” said Kiney’s daughter Sarah Fary.
Kiney and his wife Eleanor volunteered year-round with the Samaritan’s Purse project Operation Christmas Child for 25 years before she passed away earlier in 2020. In celebration of his many years of service, Fary had collected the many Operation Christmas Child t-shirts he had received and had them sewn into a quilt.
Eleanor Kiney passed away suddenly in May 2020, leading Kiney to move in with his daughter.
Kiney himself was unable to shop for items for his shoeboxes, but with Fary's help, he gathered enough items to fill his dining room with gifts.
“They always had to have a spoon a bowl a washcloth a bar of soap, as well as school supplies and toys,” Fary remembers. Even though he had limited mobility and had to sit to work, Kiney packed all 509 shoebox gifts personally, in sturdy plastic shoebox-sized containers.
“I had things lined up on the bed and the couch, I got him set up to where he could sit, and he had his way of going through and filling all the boxes,” Fary said.
Operation Christmas Child’s National Collection Week for shoebox gifts takes place on the third week of November every year. Linda Keown coordinated the drop-off location at Lakewood Baptist Church in Phenix City. “On Tuesday, here comes Sarah in a U-haul,” Keown said. “We were so thrilled to meet her.”
Kiney passed away three days later on Nov. 20, a Friday, even as shoebox gifts like the ones he had packed were being collected at drop-off locations across the Chattachoochee Valley. His daughter had just been able to give him the t-shirt quilt.
“My dad was the kind of guy that everybody liked. He had a very quick smile, he was very quick to help,” Fary said.
Even though drop-off locations for Operation Christmas Child have now closed, Individuals and families wishing to follow Kiney’s example can visit samaritanspurse.org/buildonline. There, they can pack a shoebox online by selecting gifts matched to a child’s specific age and gender, then finishing with a photo and personal note of encouragement. They can also donate $9 per shoebox gift online through “Follow Your Box” and receive a tracking label to discover its destination. Learn more at samaritanspurse.org/buildonline.
Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, seeks 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. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 178 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 160 countries and territories.