Gifts may reach children in 100 countries
Left photo from left, Brian Pitre of First Baptist Church in Houma and Casey Richard of First Baptist Church in Morgan City work to pack a large truck Monday afternoon with hundreds of boxes packed to the brim with shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Some boxes will be distributed to needy children throughout the United States, and others will go overseas to different countries just in time for the holiday season. (Daily Review/ Courtney Darce)
Top photo from left, Kaeley Hill, her brother Kohen Hill, and volunteer Katelyn Richard, unload the last dozen of packed Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes from the back of a truck Monday afternoon at First Baptist Church in Morgan City. The Hills brought in their owned filled boxes and those from Berwick Junior High. Church volunteers teamed together to gather boxes from the community then shipped out the more than 4,000 boxes to needy children. (Daily Review/ Courtney Darce)
A bit of St. Mary Parish Christmas spirit will be sent to thousands of needy children throughout the world as nearly 5,000 shoe boxes were collected by local churches as part of Operation Christmas Child.
Individuals from the community along with 21 churches from as far as Grand Isle collected the shoe boxes stuffed with school supplies and gifts to send to disadvantaged children in more than 100 countries.
The shoe boxes were packed into larger cardboard boxes at First Baptist Church of Morgan City and on Monday they were loaded on to a tractor-trailer rig and sent from the collection center to the main distribution point in Boone, N.C.
Robin Richard, the collection center coordinator at the church, said the 4,910 shoe boxes exceeded the goal set by local organizers of collecting 4,000 shoe boxes to ship out to North Carolina.
“There was one family that chose to pack 27 boxes to send to these children instead of buying Christmas presents this year,” Richard said with an appreciative smile.
Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham. Richard said the Morgan City church has been involved in the program for 11 years.
“This is a great tool to show children around the world that we love them and that God loves them,” Richard said.
Richard said this is the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind and is making Christmas a reality for needy children around the world by filling shoe boxes with toys, school supplies, hygiene items and notes of encouragement. She said the shoe box gift will be the first gift many children have ever received.
“All the churches and the community have picked up and done more this year and we have had a bunch of new churches join in with us,” Richard said as she kept a running tabulation of boxes being loaded on the truck in the parking lot of the Victor II Boulevard church.
The church had a packing party on Nov. 14 to put the items it had collected throughout this year into shoe boxes. Richard said the Berwick Girl Scouts troop were a big help at the packing party.
The majority of the boxes that were brought to the church were collected during Operation Christmas Child’s National Collection Week, which was Nov. 18 to 25.
Rebecca Lasseigne was one of the last people to make a donation of boxes before the church was emptied of its boxes.
Her family and church, First Baptist Church of Grand Isle, along with an affiliated church, Crosspoint Church in Galliano and the Coast Guard station on Grand Isle, had collected 37 boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Most of the boxes had already been brought to a collection center in Houma but she had some boxes she wanted to drop off as her family traveled to Texas for the Thanksgiving holiday.
“This ministry is incredible and far reaching,” Lasseigne said. “The Samaritan’s Purse does not just give a shoe box but they form a relationship with these children and they have a discipleship program.”
Richard said Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 100 million shoe box gifts to children since 1993.
The Samaritan’s Purse website says it is a nondenominational, evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, it has helped victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ.
For additional information about Operation Christmas Child, visit www.samari tanspurse.org.