‘Tis the season for shoeboxes

Published 2:38 pm Friday, October 18, 2019

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By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child is next month and local drop-off locations are already gearing up to collect the gifts.

Cindy Brackin of the Church at Bethel said the church, which will be a collection site again this year, began collecting items in January to fill the more than 1,000 boxes.

Operation Christmas Child is a project of Christian nonprofit Samaritan’s Purse that takes shoeboxes full of gifts and the story of Jesus to children in remotes area who may never have received a present.

Brackin said a standard-sized shoebox or plastic container of a similar size should be used.

“You pick whether you want to pack a box for a boy or a girl, then you pick your age,” Brackin said.

Age groups are 2-4, 5-9 and 10-14 years old.

“Start with a wow item something like a stuffed animal, a doll, soccer ball for a boy with a (hand-held) pump,” Brackin said. “A gift that is really going to pop when they open the box.”

School supplies, hygiene items and toys are other recommended items.

Prohibited items include, food, candy, toothpaste, war–related toys, anything with camouflage green, breakable items, lotion, aerosol cans or any types of liquid.

For more suggestions and guidelines, visit https://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/pack-a-shoe-box.

A $9 donation to cover shipping costs is also requested. Brackin said this donation was crucial to the success of the program.

National Collection Week is Nov. 18-25 with five local churches participating as drop-off locations. From there, the boxes will be sorted into larger boxes and taken to The Church at Bethel, where they will be loaded onto a tractor trailer and taken to the processing center in Atlanta. Here the boxes are inspected to make sure there are no prohibited items, prayed over and sent to the next part of the journey, eventually making it into the hands of an expectant child. Shoeboxes are delivered to more than 100 countries.

“Every shoebox is an opportunity to tell that child about Jesus Christ,” Brackin said.

Samaritan‘s Purse provides a copy of “The Greatest Gift,” a book about Jesus in the child’s own language, during the shoebox distribution. Many areas also provide “The Greatest Journey”discipleship program as a follow up.

Brackin said a shoebox gift has a positive impact on not only the child that receives it, but his or her family and community as well. She said churches have been started as a result of shoebox gift distribution and “The Greatest Journey.”

Those packing a shoebox are also encouraged to include a note to the child who will be receiving the box. Brackin said she received a letter from an orphanage in India where four of the children had received boxes she packed. She is still in communication with them by letter today.

The Church at Bethel has supported Operation Christmas Child for the past 15 years.
Brackin said she initially became involved when the secretary of the church at the time told her about it.

“I enjoy it all,” Brackin said. “Just knowing that when that child opens up that shoebox and they see that wow gift that is laying right on top — that’s what I love knowing, because some of these children have never received a gift. Knowing that they are going to learn about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ — I’m just overwhelmed by that.”

OCC has delivered boxes to 100 countries.

According to a Samaritan’s Purse press release, the goal for the Chilton County area is 14,000 boxes.

The goal for the United States is 11 million boxes.

“I love seeing the local community rally together for a global impact,” said OCC Regional Director Shelli Wishard. “We see all ages getting involved –and more and more every year.”

Local drop off days and times:

Church at Bethel, 10042 Collins Chapel Road in Thorsby

Nov. 18, Nov. 19, Nov. 21, Nov. 22: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Nov. 20: 9 – 11 a.m.

Nov. 21: 6 – 8 p.m.

Nov. 23: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Nov. 24: 1-5 p.m.

Nov. 25: 8 a.m. – noon


West End Baptist Church, 2005 Second Avenue N in Clanton
Nov. 18, Nov. 20, Nov. 22: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Nov. 19: noon to 3 p.m.

Nov. 21 and Nov. 23: 10 a.m. – noon

Nov. 21: 5 – 7 p.m.

Nov. 24: 3 – 5 p.m.

Nov. 25: 7 – 9 a.m.


Verbena Baptist Church, 197 County Road 500

Nov. 18, Nov. 19, Nov. 20, Nov. 21, Nov. 22 and Nov. 23: 10 a.m. – noon

Nov. 19: 4:30- – 6:30 p.m.

Nov. 24: 1 – 4:30 p.m.

Nov. 25: 9 – 11 a.m.


Providence Baptist Church, 190 County Road 46 in Montevallo

Nov. 18, Nov. 22: 5 – 7 p.m.

Nov. 19: 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.

Nov. 20: 6 – 8 p.m.

Nov. 21 and Nov. 23: 10 a.m. –  noon

Nov. 24: 3 – 5 p.m.

Nov. 25: 8-10 a.m.


Indian Grave Baptist Church, 1343 County Road 24 in Billingsley

Nov. 18, Nov. 19, Nov. 20 and Nov. 21: 5 – 7 p.m.

Nov. 22, Nov. 23 and Nov. 25: 8- 10 a.m.

Nov. 24: 1 – 5 p.m.