By Cindy Jo Ayers
It’s almost time for the Operation Christmas Child Kick-Off event. Each year thousands of Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes are packed and sent from the Tri-County area. Good hearted people who care about children around world buy gifts and pack them in shoeboxes. Those boxes are collected at churches or turned into a collection center in the area. The boxes are sent by Samaritan’s Purse to children around the world who often times have never received a Christmas gift or any other gift. The shoeboxes are usually filled with a small toy or two, socks or a shirt and a story book The Greatest Gift which is provided by Operation Christmas Child.
This year’s Kick-Off event will be held at Bethel Baptist Church on Saturday, September 28, from 9 a.m. to around 11 a.m.
Nicholas Messina, 17, of Trenton will be the guest speaker at the Kick Off event.
Messina traveled to Tbilisi, Georgia, in Eastern Europe where he distributed shoebox gifts to the children. He became involved with Operation Christmas Child after helping pack shoeboxes at his church. Messina and a team traveled to Tbilisi where they spent eight days.
“I have always wondered where the boxes that I have packed end up at, and so it really inspired me to pack more shoeboxes after seeing the kids faces when they open their boxes.” said Messina. He went on to say the trip had a very positive impact. He said, “It really made me appreciate all of the opportunities that I have been given. It also made me see the kids’ hunger to learn more about Christ, and in turn it made me hungrier to grow and developing my relationship with Christ.”
The Nature Coast Area Team of Operation Christmas Child is hosting the event for the public, shoebox donors, participating church members and anyone who would like to learn more about how God is building His Kingdom through Operation Christmas Child.
This event is a great opportunity to learn about the shoebox gifts and how they are changing the world one child at a time.
Since 1993 Operation Christmas Child has collected over 157 million shoeboxes packed by caring church members, individuals and groups and deliver them to children in 160 countries and territories. The Nature Coast Area often referred to as the Tri-County Area, Gilchrist, Levy and Dixie Counties’ citizens have packed around 7,000 shoeboxes for the past several years.
Operation Christmas Child is the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind. The shoebox gifts demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world. When each child receives their shoebox they will not only find a gift but also The Greatest Gift storybook. The book shares the message of salvation with the children in their own language. The children can take the book home with them and share it with their family.
Franklin Graham once said, “I want every child to know there is a God who loves them.”
The Kick-Off event is free and open to the public, so bring a friend to Bethel Baptist Church, on Saturday, September 28, and learn more about Operation Christmas Child.
The church is located at 7070 SW County Road 334A, Trenton.
Operation Christmas Child Kick Off event planned for Sept. 28
By Cindy Jo Ayers