By GWEN SISSON
Everyone loves a gift.
And this week, thousands of area residents have come together to make Christmas special for needy children around the world, with shoe boxes filled with small gifts to surprise and delight, as part of the Operation Christmas Child National Collection Week.
“It is amazing the stories we hear from around the world of how lives are changed through these shoe boxes,” said Melody Cochran, volunteer at the Oktibbeha County Collection Center. “God places each shoe box in the right hands.”
Throughout the week, volunteers have been collecting shoe boxes filled with small toys, personal hygiene items and school supplies to be sent to needy children all over the world who will not have a gift at Christmas.
In Oktibbeha County, individuals, families and churches have donated over 1,400 boxes as of Sunday afternoon. Serving as the Oktibbeha County Collection Center is Starkville Community Church.
The Webster County Collection Center is held at First Baptist Church in Mathiston for the first time this year. Webster County volunteers reported over 2,200 boxes brought in to the Center this week.
Faye Dewberry said the change in collection centers has be a wonderful transition. She said the public has responded well and volunteers are having a great time.
Many churches held “packing parties” this year to add an element of fun to the mission project.
At the collection centers, volunteers add to the growing collection, then form a circle and hold hands to pray for the child receiving the special box.
Operation Christmas Child is a national campaign to help needy children as part of Samaritian’s Purse. The purpose of the program is to provide needy children will gifts and necessities at Christmas, and through the gift, learn more about God.
For more information about Operation Christmas Child, go to http://www.samaritanspurse.org