An Antioch church is working to collect 1000 shoe boxes of gifts to send to needy children in more than 100 countries.
Living Word Community Church had its members wrapping shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child during its Wednesday night service.
“This is part of our outreach ministry,” Pastor Stephanie Beard said. “Something we desire to do is help children all over the world and be a blessing to the body of Christ.”
Operation Christmas Child is a program run by Samaritan's Purse. Shoe boxes are filled with school supplies, toys, necessity items and letters of encouragement.
The boxes are shipped to the countries and hand delivered to needy children.
“These children do not have anything,” Pastor Beard said. “It gives us a chance to share our wealth with children who live in impoverished environments.”
Operation Christmas Child began in 1993. Since then the project has collected 86 million shoe box gifts.
This year the organization hopes to send 8.5 million gift boxes, with 32,000 of the collected boxes coming from Tennessee.
Living Word Community Church member Angela Mason is participating with the church's program for the first time.
“It makes you put things into perspective,” Mason said. “I know as humans we can be so selfish, but doing something else for someone like this just means the world.”
Last year the church collected 500 gift boxes. This year's goal is 1,000.
The gift boxes are mailed out the third week of December. Many of the gifts arrive around Christmas, but in some cases war and/or government unrest can delay delivery.
Gift boxes sent to Lybia last year for Christmas did not arrive until July, according to Operation Christmas Child.
“I think it will make them feel awesome just to know somebody cares about them,” Mason said.
To donate to Operation Christmas Child call 615-778-0046 or visit the Samaritans Purse Web site.