Giving thanks comes in all forms and fashions and Operation Christmas Child is no exception.
Throughout Marshall, individuals and church congregations have a mission for the week of November 18-25: to fill shoeboxes with toys, school supplies, toiletries, prayers and love.
Operation Christmas Child, through Samaritan’s Purse, allows people to show Christ’s love with evangelism, discipleship and multiplication. Packing a shoebox allows children across the world to be blessed and parents use the project to teach their kids about giving.
In Marshall at Immanuel Baptist Church, the Operation Christmas Child group will fill 300 boxes, while congregational members fill 200 boxes.
Lake of the Pines Baptist Church not only fill shoeboxes, but gets groups together to go to Dallas and volunteer at the Operation Christmas Child centers. Port Caddo Baptist has packed 81 boxes this year.
At First Baptist Church in Cookville there is a very small Bible study class that has been focusing on filling 12 boxes. Central Baptist has been working hard to fill 600 boxes.
Nesbitt Baptist Church, Harleton Baptist Church, Port Caddo Baptist Church, Cumberland Presbyterian, First Baptist Church of Waskom, First Baptist Church in Kilgore, Cedar Grove Baptist Church, Crossroads Baptist, Friendship Baptist, Summit Methodist Church, Mulberry Springs Baptist Church, Summit UMC, and Prospect Baptist in Jefferson are all working to fill shoeboxes.
Not only have churches gotten in the spirit of giving, East Texas Baptist University Athletics has been working to fill 200 boxes.
Trinity Episcopal Church works all year to collect different items to eventually fill boxes each November. According to Youth Minister Rae Dickson, prior to this year, there has been a huge push in November to get items to place in shoeboxes.
This year, however, the church worked together to collect one item per month and Dickson was able to update the congregation on their progress.
Items in their shoeboxes include a flattened soccer ball, air pump, flip flops and socks, soap, washrag, toothbrush, pens, pencils, notebooks, flashlight, a handwritten note and a photo of the youth group with everyone in it. They also include a small toy such as a fidget spinner or hacky sack.
Emotions and a season of thanksgiving is involved for Dickson, who began her involvement in the shoebox program because of her mom.
After all the shoeboxes are finished — about 30 — they are brought into the church’s sanctuary to receive a blessing and prayers before they make their way to a third world country.
“It absolutely changes their lives,” Dickson said, about receiving the shoeboxes.
Part of the project is including $9 for mailing the shoeboxes so for Trinity, that is $300. The shoeboxes will be filled Sunday during a packing party including pizza and a movie.
For those who may want to pack a shoebox, there is still time and details can be found at www.samaritanspurse.org. Any shoebox will do, but ones with plastic lids are the easiest to close.
You can pack for either a boy or a girl, ages 2 to 4, 5 to 9, or 10 to 14.