First Baptist Church in Whitesburg collected 141 more gift-filled shoeboxes for distribution to needy children worldwide than the previous year.
Organizers were surprised when a total of 11,420 shoeboxes were sent to the church.
“I am in awe of the people of southeast Kentucky and southwest Virginia,” said Lee Adams, a member of First Baptist Church of Whitesburg, who serves as area coordinator volunteer for southeast Kentucky and southwest Virginia’s Operation Christmas Child.
“I know times are harder and we still came in above. Just think of the children that will hear the gospel because of the giving people here.”
Last year, the Whitesburg church collected 11,279 of the 8 million shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse headed by Franklin Graham. The shoeboxes, filled with diff erent toiletries, school supplies, candy, toys and other items, are collected and distributed to needy children in 90 diff erent countries, including the United States.
This is the eighth year the church 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 dropped off shoeboxes at the church until Nov. 22. Volunteers from relay centers in Hazard, Lynch, Pikeville, Salyersville, Shelby Valley, Big Stone Gap, Va., and Wise, Va., also brought large quantities of shoeboxes that were collected at their sites.