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Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Drive Underway in Tri-County Area

The big news this year from Operation Christmas Child’s Shoebox campaign is that the new boxes are 25% bigger. That’s right, more room to send Christmas gifts for a child in need in America and worldwide.
The Kick-Off breakfast was held at Bethel Baptist Church on Saturday, September 28. Churches from throughout the area were represented at the event. Geneva Cornwell, one of the coordinators of the event, welcomed everyone and thanked those who volunteer in the Nature Coast area with Operation Christmas Child.
Nicholas Messina reported about his recent Youth Vision Trip to hand out shoeboxes in the country of Georgia which is between Russia, Turkey and the Black Sea. Nicholas said they went in teams of 25 and played games with the children like tug of war. A gospel presentation was made to the children. He talked about how hungry they were for the gospel. The shoeboxes were a big hit with the children and they became very excited about a simple stuffed animal or a pair of socks. He said they have nothing material, but were very willing to share their gifts with the other children. Nicholas said his group was very worried about attendance because it was raining and they were afraid that the attendance would be low. So the team prayed for the rain to stop. Just as they arrived at a small church that would only hold 50 children the rain stopped and the sun came out and the children came. He recalled one little girl who received a simple pair of socks. He said she was so happy and went around showing everyone her new socks.
Dana Messina reported on different ideas for what churches and groups could do to raise money to send the Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. This year the shipping fee is $9 per shoebox which covers not only the overseas shipping, but also the truckers who take the shoeboxes to the distribution centers in Atlanta, and then the trucker and truck to take the cartons from Atlanta to whatever port they will ship from in America. It also pays for some temporary workers in the distribution center in Atlanta. It was reported that last year at least two of the temporary workers came to know the Lord after they were witnessed to by volunteers at the center.
Dana Messina said, “These shoeboxes are like the hands and feet of Jesus going into these communities.”
Pam Wessels shared some ideas which came from churches and community groups on how to kick off this year’s shoebox drive.
Part of the informative meeting was a presentation of cute craft ideas by Carol Dobbs. Handmade bracelets, small sock dolls and happy yarn animals on popcycle sticks were some of the items that Carol makes year around in her home craft room to be packed into the Christmas shoeboxes.
Dobbs said she would be glad to attend local OCC kick off events and share craft ideas for shoeboxes. She suggested that ladies groups, church youth groups or community groups could craft handmade gifts for the shoeboxes. Carol Dobbs lives near McAlpin and she can be reached at 386-288-9848 or 386-330-4475.
Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, has delivered 157 million gift-filled shoeboxes to boys and girls around the world.

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