Operation Christmas Child unites the church community – Farmville

Story and photos by Victoria Thompson

As the Christmas season approaches, people come together to contribute to the world around them in any way they can. Charitable events often occur during this donation season, and often projects like Operation Christmas Child have become a holiday tradition for local churches.

On Saturday morning November 6, Worsham Baptist Church hosted a wrapping party for Operation Christmas Child. Church members of all ages came to participate and support the cause.

Lorraine Smith, the central depot coordinator for the Operation Christmas Child South Central Virginia team, said the group would like to recruit more volunteers in the future.

“We would love to train our team members,” she said, “because all we have now are members of the prayer team and the central repository which is me. – same and the other two members of the depot team, one in Keysville and one in Asheville.

Operation Christmas Child is a specific project of Samaritan’s Purse, dedicated to delivering shoe boxes containing gifts and basic necessities such as toys, school supplies and hygiene products to children in need. Samaritan’s Purse is based in Boone, North Carolina, and works with over 100 countries to help those in need.

Smith further explained how the team’s regional coordinator resigned several years ago, so that position is unfilled at this time. Additionally, Smith encourages the idea of ​​expanding the team to involve more people.

“We have a lot of them, so we need to encourage others to give and help them know that it is a tangible demonstration of God’s love when children receive these gifts,” she said.

Team members consist of people who work with churches, community citizens and logistics. In addition, there are those who work in media support for social media, newspapers and radio, as well as the prayer team and student relations with colleges and other schools in the area.

The Baptist Heritage Church is the central repository for Operation Christmas Child in Farmville. There are two other drop-off points in the area: Ash Camp Baptist Church in Keysville and Blackstone Presbyterian Church in Blackstone. Worsham and Heritage are two of the 35 or so churches in the area participating in Operation Christmas Child.

The project itself has been around since 1993. Franklin Graham, President and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, helped start the Christmas operation by asking his friend, the late Pastor Ross Rhoads, to help him with the request made that shoeboxes be filled with gifts. for children in Bosnia, because the country was then at war.

Since the start of the project, 188 million children in 170 countries have received shoe boxes through the program.

Globally, the goal for this year is to bring gifts to 9.7 million children. The target for last year was 9.1 million. For Worsham Baptist Church, the goal was to fill 200 shoeboxes and 100 backpacks.

Smith mentioned how senior members of his own religious community at Heritage chose to donate to this project online.

Due to the pandemic, Operation Christmas Child promoted the idea of ​​building an online box this year in addition to in-person work. People could go to the organization’s website to build a box and choose the different items to put in it for the price of $ 25, which included the $ 9 shipping and handling fee.

“It’s very large,” said Smith, “There are a lot of volunteers involved. “

Worsham has collected items for this all year round. Being involved in this project also reminds local church members of the real reason for the season.

“I think it’s important. In the scriptures we are commanded to make (events like Operation Christmas Child) to go all over the world. Smith said, “That’s really what (the goal) is. “

The boxes don’t just bring gifts to children, Smith explained.

“It’s not just the shoebox gift. It is sharing the gospel with children. They have the opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus, ”she said.

Operation Christmas Child spreads the gospel of Christianity at various distribution events held around the world where children receive messages about Jesus while receiving their shoebox.

It also does a lot for the people who give, ”added Smith. “It enlarges your heart when you give to others and share. “

Charitable projects like this also build closer ties within small communities like the churches in Farmville.

“Your impact is so much greater when you join other churches and not just by trying to do it yourself. You couldn’t do it alone. We need each other, ”Smith admitted.

The Operation Christmas Child fundraising week always takes place the week before Thanksgiving each year. National Shoebox Collection Week took place November 15-22 of this year.

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