Imagine everything you receive for Christmas this year fitting inside one shoebox. Imagine much of the box space filled with washcloths, soap, a toothbrush and toothpaste and socks. And then try to imagine being filled with joy and appreciation beyond words for such a marvelous gift.
More than 8.2 million needy children worldwide will receive a shoebox of gifts this year, thanks to Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse International Relief Organization, a project crafted to spread the message of God’s love across the globe.
Recently, children and adults in the Statesboro and surrounding areas packed 2,905 shoeboxes that eventually will be distributed in 130 countries. Almost three thousand families will be impacted by a small token of love from our little part of the world.
For the first time, Statesboro served as a drop-off site for shoeboxes.
Hubert Tankersley, senior minister at First Baptist Church and coordinator for the drop-site, said, “Churches, groups, businesses, and even individuals came with one, handfuls, or carloads of boxes.
“Volunteers from Emit Grove Baptist Church, First Presbyterian Church, First Baptist Church, and Georgia Southern University unloaded the shoeboxes on carts and brought them inside the church. At that point, we joined hands to pray over the boxes, especially praying for each child that will receive a box.”
Shoeboxes are stuffed with balls, dolls, small cars, yo-yos, jump ropes, plush animals, school supplies, hygiene items, hard candy and lollipops, mints, gum, socks, sunglasses, watches, flashlights, and seven dollars to help defray the cost of shipping.
Volunteers put rubber bands around the boxes and loaded them into cardboard boxes. The next stop for the crates of shoeboxes was Savannah and then onto Atlanta, one of eight processing centers in the United States.
Again, volunteers from across the state work in Atlanta to make sure individual shoeboxes are packed correctly (no knives or offensive toys, no chocolate or out-of-date candy, no liquids or perishables).
The shoeboxes make their way to destinations all over the world, with local churches and missionaries in country distributing them to children in need. At that time, children who desire are offered discipleship programs in their own language to learn about Jesus Christ.
Many other children will soon unwrap gifts of love all across the globe.
Shoeboxes came from churches - Grace Community, Olive Branch Baptist, Langston United Methodist, Trinity Presbyterian, Register Baptist, Fletcher Baptist, Sylvania Believers, Statesboro, Brooklet, and Sylvania First United Methodist, Nevil’s Trinity Baptist, Emit Grove Baptist, Ellabel Christ Baptist, Sylvania First Christian, Cornerstone, New Hope and Hubert United Methodist.
Also, Statesboro, Sylvania, and Pembroke First Baptists, Union Baptist, Clito Baptist, Macedonia Baptist, Pembroke Emmanuel Community, Connection, New Life Fellowship Freewill Baptist, Bay Branch Primitive Baptist, Gracewood Baptist, Collins Rogers Baptist, Southbridge Community, Bethel Baptist, Little Ogeechee Baptist, and Millen Oak Hill Baptist.
Other groups who packed boxes included Wesley Foundation, Christ Campus Fellowship, GSU Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Statesboro Junior Women’s Club, Statesboro Christian Bookstore, and several individuals.