Operation Christmas Child holds local kick-off event

Posted September 5, 2018 at 8:49 am

Operation Christmas Child, a Samaritan’s Purse project, has delivered 157 million shoeboxes to boys and girls around the world, and the annual event–which locally has a relay station for Clinton and Cumberland counties, held its annual kick-off at the Albany First Baptist Church Sunday night, August 26.

For communities the size of Clinton and Cumberland counties, people who have donated items to not only help children in need all around the world, but spread the gospel of Jesus, has collected a countless number of boxes, through churches and individuals over the past quarter century and organizers feel this year will be no different.

Kathy Conner, of the First Baptist Church and long-time organizer for the local event, said the kick-off, held in the gymnasium of the church this past Sunday, was a tremendous success estimated the number in attendance to slightly exceed 200 people.

Music was provided by both the Campbellsville University Church Outreach and AFB Children’s Choir, with the guest speaker for the evening being local pastor and missionary Bro. Ted Burchett.

Conner noted that Trish Miller, a member of Central Union Baptist Church, issued a challenge for all churches to collect at least 100 shoeboxes for this year’s drive and a very lofty goal of some 3,000 boxes was set during the kick-off.

The project is totally non-denominational and is not only open to churches, but encourages businesses, organizations, clubs and individuals to join in on seeing how many boxes they can fill and send to children overseas that are less fortunate.

The Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child collects shoebox gifts–filled with toys, school supplies, and hygiene items–and delivers them to children in need around the world to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way. For many of these children, the gift box is the first gift they will have received.

In 2018, OCC hopes to collect enough shoebox gifts to reach 11 million children. In 2017, more than 11 million shoebox gifts were collected worldwide with more than 8.8 million collected in the United States.

Although the Clinton and Cumberland area did not meet its 2017 goal of just over 2,000 shoeboxes last year, a total of 1,579 boxes were filled, dropped off at Albany First Baptist, transported by truck to another location before being shipped eventually to countries that receive them.

The Power of the Shoebox: If you take the number of 2017 TGJ reported decisions for Christ from OCC International: 2,657,579 and divide it by 365 days, you get an average of 7,281 who have accepted Christ per day; 7,281 children per day translates to 303 children per hour or five children per minute.

Here is a “checklist” of what is recommended before packing a shoebox: find a standard size shoebox; fill it with a “wow” toy and other gifts; pray for the child who will receive the box; include a $9 donation (to cover shipping expense) or donate online and send your gift to a drop-off location the third week in November.

“Wow” items include things like a soccer ball, doll, stuffed animal, musical instrument and shoes; toys like toy cars, yo-yos, or those that make noise (with extra batteries); accessories such as socks, hats, sunglasses, hair clips, jewelry, watches and flashlights; school supplies such as pens, pencils, crayons, markers, notebooks, picture books, etc.; Hygiene products such as tooth brushes, bar soap, wash cloths and it is suggested you send a personal item such as a photo of yourself, family or group and maybe include your name and address so the child receiving the box may write back.

Conner did note that some items, due to customs regulations and security concerns, were not permissible, such as liquids, glass, candy or toothpaste. She also, however, expressed the dire need for school supplies and toys for children who may otherwise never receive one.

Operation Christmas Child was founded by the group’s president, Franklin Graham, in 1993 after receiving a call from a man in England asking for help on behalf of children in Bosnia who were suffering because of a brutal civil war. The Englishman specifically asked for shoeboxes filled with gifts to deliver to children at Christmas.

Although now, due to the time it takes to get deliveries from one county to those in need, children may not receive those gifts until well after our own Christmas celebration date, but it will still be Christmas to them.

Often, many individuals begin collecting and filling shoeboxes year-round and many churches begin their campaign several months in advance.

Conner noted that although shoebox gifts can be turned in at the church anytime, the primary collection week this year will be November 12-19.

For more information about Operation Christmas Child locally, contact Conner by calling the church, 387-5909 or 387-8220 and for more information about the project in general, visit www.samaritanspurse.org/occ or call 1-800-353-5949.