‘Tis the season for Operation Christmas Child, and At His Feet Christian Center jumped right into the project again this year.
Relay Center Director Vicki Hart and volunteers were at the center November 23, packing a box truck with the fruits of their labor – 391 boxes bound for children overseas. Hart was more than happy to talk about the love and work that went into the annual effort.
“This is our third year as a relay center,” she explained. “However, as a church, we have sent boxes every year.”
Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, and many schools and churches participate locally. Collection for the Mt. Gilead area was from November 16 – 23. But collecting items for the fall project often goes on all year.
“All the items in the boxes come from individuals, who purchase them and put together as many boxes as they can,” Hart said. “We have a box we set in the sanctuary that has ‘Operation Christmas Child’ on the side, and we give donors an item in each monthly newsletter to bring into the church for the Childrens Church, who did 60 boxes this year. The (adult) individuals get their own items and buy throughout the year.”
Though everyone fills their boxes as they see fit, Hart said there are brochures that instruct what can and can’t be used, since the boxes are for children. Suggestion include items such as dolls, jump ropes, balls, toy trucks, school supplies, toothbrushes, combs, socks, hair clips, and even a note from or photo of the donor.
Samaritans Purse also puts in a book called “The Greatest Gift,” a book about Jesus Christ, and “The Greatest Journey,” a book about the discipleship program that goes on past the boxes. The kids that want to be in a discipleship program are schooled in the Journey of Christ, and it just keeps going and going.
“Not only does the child get the box, but it affects their parents and the community,” Hart contended. “It’s an ongoing thing. It does not stop at the box. Christ’s commission was for us to make disciples of all the world.”
The truck was bound for the collection center in Mansfield, where all the boxes are put on semis.
“Ours this year is going to a processing center in Boone, North Carolina.” Hart said. “They go through every box to make sure everything in there is safe. These boxes have integrity – they have all been prayed over. We believe God takes that box and gets it to the right child. The giver gives the box, prays over it, and it goes where it belongs.”
After the boxes leave North Carolina, they could end up anywhere, but Hart says the church is usually informed of what countries they went to. “I tracked one of my boxes one year, and it went to Bangladesh.”
Hart said the Center has been filling boxes since the church opened 14 years ago.
“Individually, the people at this church – their hearts are huge,” she said. “391 Boxes are a lot of boxes. We’ve got the heart for Operation Christmas Child.”