Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes spread good news, great joy

Published 2:40 am Thursday, November 17, 2022

For roughly seven years, Luverne First Baptist Church has served as a drop-off location for Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. 

Collection takes place through Monday, and volunteers expect the effort to reach around the world with God’s love.

“[Shoeboxes] are one way to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth,” said drop off coordinator Gail Morgan.

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According to Morgan, shoeboxes reach over 100 countries worldwide. The gift-filled boxes go out to children in some of the hardest-to-reach places — deep jungles, city slums, mountains, and remote islands. (lowpricebud.co)

Crenshaw County residents impacted over 7,000 lives in 2021 and shared the message of God’s love by packing gift-filled shoeboxes.

Approximately 10 lives are touched by every box collected. The shoeboxes are filled to the brim with toys, hygiene items, and school supplies, impacting not only the child receiving the gift, but also that child’s family, friends, and community as well as the individual or family who packed the box and the volunteers who helped with collection and distribution.

“Shoeboxes are representative of sharing the gospel,” Morgan said. “First and foremost, it’s an international project, a tangible way to take items to underprivileged children that need these things.

“It represents much more than what is packed in the box. The shoebox is just a means of helping meet physical and emotional needs of these impoverished children. First and foremost, it contains hope for that child.”

Some churches collect items all year and host a packing party before collection week. Other churches, individuals, and families, pack personalized shoe boxes filled with items for a girl or boy within a specific age range.

Donors often include a photo of themselves or a personal message for the recipient, said Morgan, and volunteers and missionaries who distribute the boxes help translate that message to the receiver.

The Greatest Gift booklet, available in more than 90 languages, is given out with every shoebox and shares 11 Bible stories in a child-friendly manner, inviting children to follow Christ.

Morgan recalled reading about one little girl who received a shoebox and was invited to participate in The Greatest Journey, a 12-lesson program introducing children to salvation through faith in Jesus.

The little girl invited 28 friends to join her in the program. Only one child received a shoebox, but she and her 28 friends came to know Jesus.

Operation Christmas Child is an interdenominational effort, Morgan notes, and the church welcomes community volunteers from throughout the county to join them.

“We welcome volunteers from the community and we would love to have as many people as possible,” said Morgan. “We are child-focused, meeting the needs of children to be sure that they hear the gospel. We get to know each other and have fun.”

The location will be open Thursday from 3-6 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to noon, and Monday from 9-11 a.m.