Eleven-year-old Casey Miller takes pride in helping others, and that pride was overflowing last week as he and 50 other youth members of Friendly Baptist Church's Royal Ambassadors and Girls in Action Mission members prepared gifts to send to needy children around the world through the Samaritan's Purse's Operation Christmas Child program.
The project involves packing and delivering shoe box-sized boxes full of gifts to children in more than 130 countries. Since 1993, the nonprofit, nondenomination organization has enlisted the help of thousands of churches and individuals - such as those at Friendly Baptist Church - to ship more than 100 million boxes. The boxes are hand-delivered by workers who spend time with the kids and talk with them about God.
“It makes me feel good that these boxes are going to a good cause, and I’m doing this for another child,” Miller said. “I know that when they learn about Jesus I’ll get to see them in heaven one day.”
The Friendly Baptist Church youth groups that gathered recently filled more than 100 boxes with items, including toothbrushes, washcloths, soap, flashlights, school supplies and small toys.
“Children that don’t get much stuff are going to get to have these toys and socks for Christmas,” 9-year-old Kayla Duncan said. “It makes me feel proud.”
Before they began packing, the groups watched a video about children receiving the boxes, prompting excitement among the younger participants.
“The first- through sixth-graders are very excited about filling the boxes,“ Volunteer Children's Director Kari Bradshaw said. “They have watched videos about the children who will receive them and have been praying over them.”
The supplies for Operation Christmas Child were donated by Friendly Baptist Church members. This was the first year the entire church participated in the program. The church's goal was to fill 100 boxes, but by the end of the packing party, they had filled 123 boxes.
“We are helping the children learn about Jesus,” 8-year-old Brylee Crawford said. “We are putting stuff in them like bookmarks and things with a Bible verse. It makes me feel good that I’m doing something for someone else.”
HOW TO PACK A BOX
• Start with an average-sized cardboard or plastic shoebox. Donors are encouraged to leave the box unwrapped, but if you decide to wrap it,, cover the box and lid separately, so the box can be opened closed for review. Pre-printed boxes and other and other shipping materials are available at www.smaritanspurse.org.
• Decide whether you will pack a box for a girl or a boy, and age, such as 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14.
• Select a small, quality “wow” toy such as a doll, soccer ball with a pump, or a stuffed animal. Then add other fun toys, hygiene items and school supplies. Some suggested items include toy cars, yo-yos, jump ropes, balls, toys that light up and make noise (add batteries), pencils, pens, crayons, markers, notebooks, paper, solar calculators, coloring and picture books, toothbrushes, bar soap, combs, washcloths, T-shirts, socks, hats, sunglasses, hair clips, jewelry, watches, flashlights, hair bows, friendship bracelets, a personal note and a photo of yourself. Samaritan's Purse officials estimate most boxes cost $7 to fill and ship.
• Do not include: Used or damaged items, war-related items such as toy guns, knives, or military figures, chocolate or food, out of date candy, liquids or lotions, medications, vitamins, breakable items such as a snow globe or glass containersor aerosol cans
• Send the boxes to Operation Christmas Child's Headquarters located at: Samaritan’s Purse, P.O. Box 3000, 801 Bamboo Road Boone, NC 28607.