Campbell County prepared over 2,000 gifts for children in other countries through Operation Christmas Child.
“We collected 2,111 boxes,” said Margaret Faulkner, who volunteered to pack boxes at First Baptist Church of LaFollette. “It’s sure gonna mean a lot to those children who get these boxes.”
Cedar Hill Baptist Church contributed 602 shoeboxes. Doris Duncan and her granddaughter, Lauren Evans, spearheaded the collection efforts, Faulkner said.
“They worked year round,” Faulkner said. “It takes that much work to (gather) that (many) boxes.”
“We didn’t quite make our goal (2,500),” Faulkner said. “We were happy with what we got because times (are) hard for some people.”
Through OCC, a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, people pack shoeboxes full of Christmas gifts, and mail them to children in other countries. The boxes are filled with items such as school supplies, toys, hygiene items, T-shirts, ball caps, sunglasses and even personal notes.
“People are missionaries when they fix a box,” Faulkner said. “Because it will have some Christian literature in it. They do put Christian literature in the language (of) wherever it’s going.”
OCC works with churches in the countries it ships the boxes to.
After churches distribute the boxes, children are invited to a 12-week Bible study called “The Greatest Journey.”
“It teaches children about Jesus Christ,” Faulkner said. “Entire families are saved as a result of one shoe box.”
FBCL is the relay center for OCC in Campbell County. People from Campbell County, and some from Scott County, who prepared shoeboxes, left them at FBCL, where they were packed into cartons and stored. On Nov. 19, they were taken to Knoxville where they were loaded onto transfer trucks and taken to Boone, N.C. From Boone, the boxes will be shipped all over the world.
In years past, churches in Campbell County didn’t know where the boxes they were sending would end up. However, this year, a poster hung from a wall at FBCL listing the countries where the children receiving the boxes live.
“It’s mostly places in Africa and the Ukraine,” Faulkner said.
The boxes shipped from FBCL this year will go to children in countries including Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, South Sudan and the Ukraine.
“I thought it was great that ours were going to countries in Africa,” Faulkner said.