First Baptist Church continues Operation Christmas Child

Published 5:42 pm Friday, November 10, 2017

The children of First Baptist Church were gathered in the church’s Family Life Center Wednesday night working to make the lives of children in other countries a little better.

Operation Christmas Child, a 15-year tradition at the church, was underway as the children gathered around a table and prepared shoeboxes of toys and other items to send off.

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“This is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse,” said Lisa Boleware, one of the parents working with the children. “First Baptist is a collection center for the (participating) churches in Warren County and the surrounding area.”

Under the program, the children pack shoeboxes designated for a boy or a girl with toys and other items.

“They pack the boxes with hygiene items like toothbrushes, soap, a comb and washcloths, school supplies, crayons and coloring books and toys,” Boleware said.

“They include information about themselves, and they can include a letter to the child who will receive the box and their address, so the child can write back if they wish. Sometimes the children get pen pals.”

She said the church does not use the cardboard shoeboxes provided by Samaritan’s Purse, opting instead to use a plastic shoebox, “Which allows the child or the family to use it for other things.”

In the past, she said, the children were given $5 and would go shop at local stores. This year, she said, some of the items were donated and adults bought other items for the boxes.

“This is my first time; it’s awesome,” said Bella McGahey, who with her friends, Anna Katherine McKnight, Addyson Smith and Lily Logue were helping pack the boxes.

“This is my second time,” Anna said, adding her first experience was when she was in kindergarten.

“I like helping people,” Addyson said, while Lily, who is participating for the third time, added, “This is great.”

First Baptist has served as an Operation Christian Child relay/collection center for 10 years, said Warren County area coordinator Hester Pitts. She said the goal for Warren County is to prepare 6,000 shoeboxes for the children, and the national goal is 12 million. “Last year, we had 5,600 shoeboxes,” she said, adding the boxes will be taken from Vicksburg Nov. 20.

“All the boxes from the other churches are brought here and loaded on an 18-wheeler and taken to Atlanta, where they are sent out,” she said. “Some of our church members and members from other churches in the county will go to Atlanta the Sunday after Thanksgiving and help at the center.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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