Box ’em up

Published 8:39 pm Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It’s easy to feel helpless when you read about the struggles of children around the world or see them on TV. It would be nice if there was an easy way to pack up something in a box and send it out, knowing it would reach someone in need.

The good news is, there is a way to do that. It’s a project called Operation Christmas Child, which delivers simple gifts packed in shoeboxes to children in different countries.

Many local churches have information available about the program, and are taking up shoeboxes and even providing the packing material for them.

There is only one official relay station for Operation Christmas Child in Chilton County, however. It is at The Church at Bethel in Thorsby. Boxes can be taken there through Sunday.

“We’ve had lots of volunteers,” said Cindy Brackin, Operation Christmas Child coordinator for Chilton County. “We’ve got volunteers coming from other churches. [Today] will be a big day.”

The station has collected 861 boxes as of yesterday, collecting more than 550 on Monday alone. They have set a goal of 3,000 boxes, which would top last year’s total of 2,757.

“Our children over here — they’re blessed to no end, and they’re not at want for anything,” Brackin said. “If we can just reach one child for Christ, we’ve done our job.”

How do you begin? Start with an empty, standard-size shoebox or a small, plastic container. Wrapping is an option, but boxes and lids must be wrapped separately. Box labels indicating whether the gift is for a boy or girl and what age group (2-4, 5-9 or 10-14) are available from the official brochures.

The boxes are filled with gifts like small toys, school supplies, hygiene items, candy and personal notes.

Unacceptable items include the following: used or damaged items, war-related items such as toy guns or knives, chocolate or food, liquids or lotions, medications or vitamins, breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers, and aerosol cans.

Also, all candy must be double-bagged, and hygiene items should be placed in a plastic bag.

It is especially important to include a $7 donation in each box, which goes toward the costs of fuel and Christian materials provided in native languages.

Donors should place a rubber band around each box and drop them off at the relay center by Sunday afternoon.

“Children are precious gifts from God,” Brackin said.

The Church at Bethel will be taking up donations on the following days and times:

Today (Thursday) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and from 6-8 p.m.

Tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

For more information, call the church at 857-2424.