As of Sunday night, 4,482 lives will be impacted by the generosity of Webster County residents who are passionate about the Operation Christmas Child shoebox ministry.
Final count Sunday night showed 4,482 shoeboxes collected at the Webster County Relay Center at First Baptist Church of Mathiston, up from 3,700 shoeboxes in 2013.
Faye Dewberry, OCC Relay Center manager for Webster County, said they have had a “fantastic week of collection.”
“(We are) so thankful for each box and each person that prepared one,” Dewberry said. “So much love has been put in each box. The most important is God’s love that will be shared with each child.”
Dewberry said 22 churches participated in this year’s event, in addition to individuals and families who dropped shoeboxes by the center throughout National Collection Week, Nov. 17-23.
Rev. Wade Stevens, pastor of First Baptist Church of Mathiston said his church members have worked very hard on the Operation Christmas Child Project this year.
“Quite a few have volunteered to work with the collection effort as other church groups have been bringing in the boxes that they have put together, and even more have worked to put individual boxes together,” Stevens said. “This has become a family project for many of our people. They use the occasion of putting the boxes together to teach their children about missions, giving, and how blessed we are to have the things we do.”
And while the Operation Christmas Child ministry is coming to a close for most area churches, is it just beginning for area volunteers.
“Supplies have been provided, boxes have been filled, and money given for shipping,” said Rev. Travis Gray of First Baptist Church of Eupora. “Many of you can testify that each activity was a blessing. Thanks for whatever part that you played to make it such an enjoyable experience. But in many ways, the most important part still continues. We must pray that each box goes to a special heart that is ready to experience the love of Jesus. He is the only gift that can change a lift for eternity. Keep praying for the workers who will be delivering the boxes. We have so much to be thankful for during every season.”
Dewberry and other volunteers from the Webster County Relay Center will be traveling to Atlanta, Ga. Dec. 1-3, where shoeboxes from throughout the Southeast will be checked and shipped to one of over 100 countries around the world.
For more information about Operation Christmas Child, go to http://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/.
See this story in the December 4, 2014 edition of The Webster Progress Times at http://websterprogresstimes.com/2014/12/04/nearly-4500-occ-shoeboxes-collected-locally/