ELIZABETHTOWN - A shoe box packing party will be held on Saturday for local residents to take part in Operation Christmas Child for needy children around the world.
The group has been working to collect donations of small gift items to be packed into shoe boxes to be shipped to less-fortunate countries. The purpose behind the shoe box packing party is to reach people in Bladen County who haven’t been involved with the program before, said Pat Warwick, coordinator for the local Operation Christmas Child Relay Center.
“We want to let everyone know that it’s not just churches,” she added. “It’s for anyone who would like to pack a shoe box for free and see what we’re all about. It’s an outreach from our relay center to the community.”
The relay center is housed at Fellowship Bible Church, but belongs to the entire county, Warwick said.
“The churches are the backbone, but others are encouraged to participate too,” she said. “Our vision is for this to be a countywide event, not just churches.”
Last year’s efforts brought together 1,543 shoe box gifts for the program, which is sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse. Warwick said she didn’t want to set a goal for this year, however.
“I’m not going to limit us with any number,” she said. “I’m going to wait and see what God is going to do with this.”
The gift boxes, which are filled with personal items, school supplies, candy, necessity items and notes, touch the lives of many who receive them. In fact, she said, one box doesn’t just touch the child who receives it, but can touch the whole family and help to grow the community.
“When you pack a box, you become a missionary. That’s something we wouldn’t ordinarily have the opportunity to do,” Warwick said. “Each of these people could find their salvation.”
At a recent meeting for Operation Christmas Child, Warwick heard a comment that she said would always stay with her.
“A shoe box lets each child know that God loves them individually, that He made them uniquely, and that he cares about their situations specifically,” it said.
The group of volunteers is still accepting contributions of items and monetary donations for the project. This will allow each person who attends the shoe box packing party to pack a gift box for free.
The party will be held at Elizabethtown Middle School on Saturday afternoon from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. National collection week is Nov. 17 through Nov. 24.
After Nov. 24, shoe box gifts may be mailed to Samaritan’s Purse at 801 Bamboo Road, Boone, NC 28607.
For more information about the program, contact Warwick at 645-4596.