This is the ninth year First Baptist Church of Whitesburg has served as the Operation Christmas Child collection center for southeast Kentucky/southwest Virginia. Local schools, community and church groups as well as individuals and businesses will be dropping off gift-filled shoeboxes at the church until Nov. 21. Volunteers from relay centers in Hazard, Lynch, Pikeville, Salyersville, Shelby Valley, Big Stone Gap, Va., and Wise, Va., will bring large quantities of shoeboxes that have been collected at their sites to the Whitesburg church this week.
Last year Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse headed by evangelist Franklin Graham, collected and distributed eight million shoeboxes filled with toiletries, school supplies, candy, toys and other items to needy children in 100 different countries, including the United States.
The Whitesburg church collected 11,420 shoeboxes last year and has a hefty goal of collecting 12,000 shoeboxes this year.
Operation Christmas Child does not leave out children located in remote areas. Many different types of transportation are used including helicopters in Panama, camels in Jordan and Afghanistan, small boats in the Solomon Islands, and donkeys in Honduras.
Lee Adams, a member of First Baptist Church of Whitesburg, serves as area coordinator volunteer for southeast Kentucky and southwest Virginia’s Operation Christmas Child. Adams said many children who receive shoeboxes have never received so many little gifts at one time in their life. She said several of the children live in orphanages and have to share everything and are not used to having something that is just for them.
The person fixing a box decides whether the package will be for a boy or a girl and what age category: 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14.
Suggested items to place in a shoebox are small stuffed animals, hard candy, balloons, small pads of paper, crayons, and small balls.
The organization does not want the following items included in the packages: used items; toy guns, knives or other war-related items; chocolate or perishable food items; liquids of any kind (shampoo, lotion, bubbles); medicines of any kind (vitamins, cough drops); and breakable items (china dolls, snow globes).
It is asked that $7 be included to cover the cost of shipping the package overseas but the money is not a must. Churches and other organizations give donations to help pay the shipping costs.
Shoeboxes will be collected at the church, which is located at 170 Madison Avenue, through Nov. 21. Participants can drop off shoebox gifts from 4-8 p.m. on Nov. 14- Nov. 18. The church will also be accepting shoeboxes from 12-6 p.m. on Nov. 19 and Nov. 20 and from 12-8 p.m. on Nov. 21.
For more information, call Adams at 632-0899 or email her at Krzy4Shoeboxes@bellsouth.net.