GALLIA COUNTY — Citizens across Gallia County have donated and packed over 1,000 shoeboxes with gifts for children around the world for Operation Christmas Child.
A ministry outreach of Samaritan’s Purse, the program is designed for wealthy countries to donate gifts and needs to children in other countries.
French City Baptist Church, located on Ohio 160, served as the collection point in Gallia again this year. According to Pastor Mark Williams, this marks nine years of FCBC serving with OCC.
“The first couple years we didn’t get a lot and we were really discouraged,” said Williams. “They asked us to do it one more year. We got 1,000 boxes that year.”
The first year they collected 31 boxes, contrasted by a high of more than 1,500 boxes a year. Since they began as a collection point for OCC, French City has collected around 9,000 shoeboxes for kids around the world.
With a global goal of 12 million boxes, FCBC set a goal of 1,200 as their contribution. The Gallia County church collected 1,048 boxes, just shy of their goal.
“It’s down a little bit this year, last year we had 1,237 boxes,” said Williams. “Some of the things they are worried about this year is the natural disasters: Texas, Puerto Rico.”
Puerto Rico normally gives tens of thousands of boxes, but with the recent disaster it is unknown if any will be collected, a common theme in the United States and other countries that normally give.
Shoeboxes are dropped off at FCBC, which are then shipped to South Point, Ohio where they are counted and collected. They are then shipped to Boone, N.C. where they are checked for anything that cannot go into particular countries, a booklet is added called “The Greatest Gift,” and they are shipped around the world to be distributed to kids from every walk of life.
“They’re shipped all over the word,” Williams said. “Taken off planes, trucked to different towns, and taken in by donkey, camel, elephant, boat, truck, literally anything that will move and get them into where they need to be.”
The boxes are made up and brought in to FCBC by any group or individuals. They are shoeboxes filled with little gifts and needs: gloves, hates, coloring books, and anything safe to travel.
“It’s so cool, they will have 150 kids sitting them and they count to three and all these kids open these boxes,” said Williams. “It does two things. It gives them toys, and a lot of them; it’s the first pair of shoes that kid will ever have.”
Reach Morgan McKinniss at 740-446-2342 ext 2108.