Church packs 900 shoeboxes for children’s ministry

Published 2:55 pm Friday, November 6, 2015

Center Hill Baptist Church of Jemison packed 900 shoeboxes this year for Operation Christmas Child. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

Center Hill Baptist Church of Jemison packed 900 shoeboxes this year for Operation Christmas Child. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

By Chanel Bingham | Special to the Advertiser

One might wonder how a rural church in small town Alabama could raise 900 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. It seems like quite a feat, and in fact, it was. However, the members of Center Hill Baptist Church of Jemison are willing to share their secret, which is passion.

“These kinds of things aren’t usually successful unless there is a real interest,” Center Hill Baptist Church Pastor Jeff Champion said. “It was promoted within our church, and people were motivated to do it. We are passionate about and committed to children’s ministry, and Operation Christmas Child is a part of that.”

Project leader, Beth Roscher, shared the vision that helped lead to such a successful season of donations.

“We placed a Christmas tree in the foyer of our church and left it up all year long,” Roscher said. “Each month, we would share with the congregation an ‘item of the month,’ such as stuffed animals or tooth brushes and tooth paste. We would then have members collect that item throughout the entire month.”

By September, there were enough donations collected to pack 900 shoeboxes. Donated items included writing pads, pencils, toothbrushes, toothpaste, socks, dolls, small toys, balls and other items that help provide for a child’s basic needs.

Roscher said some people even made homemade items to donate.

“Many of these children who receive shoeboxes have to walk miles and miles to a distribution center. We knew they needed a way to carry their items home, so we had some of the seamstresses in our church make tote bags,” Roscher said. “We also had several members sew doll clothes to add to the boxes.”

Roscher said that the participation for Operation Christmas Child had been outstanding. Every age group participated in collecting donations.

Roscher shared that even their oldest member, at 93, showed up to pack boxes.

Center Hill also sends volunteers to a processing center in Atlanta, where boxes are checked and prepared for shipment to children across the globe.

This is the third year the church has participated in Operation Christmas Child, raising 400 boxes the first year and 600 boxes the second year.

Of course, such a large donation presents a challenge for the rural church. Each box costs about $7 to ship. In order to help raise the funds needed for shipping, the church recently held a rummage sale. Nearly $3,000 was raised, but the church is still shy of their intended goal of $7,000.

Although they are no longer taking donations to fill shoeboxes, a donation can still be made toward the shipping costs.

If you are looking for a way to make a difference in the life of a child this Christmas, perhaps you might consider making a donation. These simple shoeboxes not only provide basic needs for children, but they also give them so much more.

“It’s fun putting things in the box but what comes out of the box is eternal, because these kids get to hear the Gospel message,” Roscher said.

If anyone would like to donate toward the shipping cost of the shoeboxes, contact Roscher at (205) 478-1095.