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Chewsville Sunday School class has prepared 1,200 gift boxes since 2008

December 07, 2011|By JANET HEIM | janeth@herald-mail.com
  • Despite being a small congregation, members of the Bethel Believers Sunday School Class from Bethel United Methodist Church in Chewsville prepared their 1,000th Operation Christmas Child's Pack A Shoebox program since starting the effort in 2008. They have now sent out about 1,200 boxes.
Submitted photo

A local church's involvement in Operation Christmas Child's Pack A Shoebox program is proof that size doesn't matter to children in need.

The nationwide effort involves filling shoeboxes with a variety of gifts, praying for the child who will receive the gift, and then delivering the boxes to the closest drop-off location, where they are distributed to needy children overseas ranging in age from 2 to 14 years old.

Some of the gifts suggested include small toys, school supplies, hygiene items, hard candy, gum, hair clips, flashlights, socks, T-shirts and ball caps.

Despite being a small congregation, members of the Bethel Believers Sunday School Class from Bethel United Methodist Church in Chewsville prepared their 1,000th shoebox for shipping since starting the effort in 2008. They have now sent out about 1,200 boxes.

"We have received letters of thanks from a child in Latvia, several children in Togo, West Africa, and from South India. It's a joy beyond measure when we hear from a child recipient to know that we're reaching around the world and bringing hope and happiness to a child in need," coordinator Marlene Young wrote in an email.

Young said the project was started by and continues to be spearheaded by the Bethel Believers in response to a message given by Pastor Bill Warehime four years ago titled "How Far Can you Reach?"

She said that the project has been embraced by the entire congregation, which holds annual fundraising events to help cover the cost of shipping. Members shop for the gifts, wrap the boxes and support the project financially.

"This project allows the congregation to become real-life Christmas angels to children in need. The project is a practical application of the biblical truth that it is more blessed to give than receive," Young said in the email.

A donation of at least $7 per box is suggested to cover the cost of shipping and follow-up materials each child receives that are translated into their own languages. The gifts in each box cost about $10 to $15.

More than 60 Washington County churches participated in the project this year, with completed boxes being delivered to a Hagerstown drop-off site, according to collection sheets at the site.

The boxes are delivered to the national distribution center of Samaritan's Purse in Boone, N.C. From there, they are distributed to 120 countries by plane; camel, donkey and elephant caravans; dog-sled teams; boats; and trains, Young said.

Last year, 8.2 million shoebox gifts were distributed. This year's goal is 8.5 million. Since 1993, 85 million shoebox gifts reached children in need.

"Even amidst challenging economic conditions, we are so greatly blessed in the U.S. and it is a blessing to share God's love through a simple gift of a shoebox filled with gifts which represent hope and happiness," Young said.

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