Taylor Memorial Baptist church collected nearly 3,000 shoe boxes this year to send to needy children around the world for the 25th anniversary of Operation Christmas Child.
Operation Christmas Child is a project run by Samaritan Purse, a missionary Christian Organization. The week before Thanksgiving, donors from around the nation drop off shoe boxes filled with toys, clothing, school supplies and hygiene items to locations around the United States. The organization then takes the shoe boxes overseas to gift to impoverished children in various countries.
“It’s an organization that tries to reach children with gifts and to let them know who Jesus Christ is,” Taylor Memorial Baptist church volunteer Bobbye Bond said.
Bond is in charge of Taylor Memorial’s donations for the project and worked at a Samaritan Purse processing center in Denver, Colo., for five years. She said Samaritan went to about 150 countries last year.
“It’s really wonderful to hear experiences of children who received the shoe boxes,” Bond said. “The one thing I never got to do was go overseas with them.”
While working at the Operation Christmas Child center, Bond heard stories about Samaritan Purse traveling overseas to drop off shoe boxes. She said Samaritan brings guests to entertain the children while volunteers pass out the boxes.
One year the organization went to Russia after a school shooting and brought a student who went to Columbine High School during the 1999 shooting. The student, who had been through the same tragedy, brought the children hope that they could get through the devastation, Bond said.
Another year, the lieutenant governor of Colorado traveled with Samaritan to give shoe boxes to children living at a landfill site in a foreign country.
Bond said Operation Christmas Child is specifically for children outside of the country because there are already plenty of charity organizations in the United States for needy children.
“There’s enough organizations in the U.S. that help children that they don’t have in foreign countries,” Bond said.
According to the Samaritan Purse website, there are nearly 5,000 national donation centers open from Nov. 12 to 19 during Operation Christmas Child.
Taylor Memorial Baptist Church at 1700 E. Yeso Drive has gathered and filled shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child for 13 years.
Monday, 15 volunteers loaded 2,819 shoe boxes to drop off at the Samaritan Purse processing center in Lubbock. Taylor Memorial donated 1,546 of the 2,819 shoe boxes loaded on the truck.
“This year, we ordered 1,500 boxes. We got those filled and a few left over from last year filled. Our goal was 1,500. We met our goal plus 46,” Bond said.
The rest of the donated shoe boxes came from individuals or other churches in Hobbs, Eunice and Jal. Bethel Baptist Church donated 511 boxes.
Bond said about 10 churches donated boxes. A church member, who owns Miller Waldrop Furniture, donated a commercial truck and driver to take the boxes to Lubbock.
In the past, senior church members packed the boxes, but this year the entire church was invited to participate. This Nov. 4, at least 100 church members packed shoe boxes full of items for poverty-stricken children.
“This year our pastor wanted our whole church to be involved in packing,” Bond said.