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WATER VALLEY – A record-breaking 3,073 Christmas shoeboxes were collected from 22 churches across Yalobusha County and shipped out Monday morning. Large cardboard boxes containing the shoeboxes left First Baptist Church in Water Valley in a U-Haul truck on the first leg of a journey that will span the world as part of Operation Christmas Child.
Local drop-off coordinator Connie Champion reported the collection was the largest ever for the county, topping last year’s number of 2,985 boxes. In addition to the churches, Champion said individuals also contributed.
“We want to thank all of our donors and volunteers who made this possible. We give God the glory,” Champion shared. “Every box is prayed over before we ship them out.”
A project of Samaritan’s Purse, the mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world. Since 1993, Samaritan’s Purse has collected shoebox gifts filled with toys, school supplies and hygiene items for children around the world.
Champion explained that boxes from Yalobusha County will be shipped to an Atlanta processing for sorting by gender and age. The boxes are also checked to ensure the contents are appropriate. She also explained that language specific gospel tracts will be added to each one.
In addition to serving as the local drop-off leader, Champion said she also packs 31 shoeboxes each year. Last year she used an option the ministry offers to track your shoeboxes to see where they end up. She had boxes that were delivered to children in the Philippines, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other countries.
“Each box can potentially give nine people the opportunity to hear the gospel,” Champion added. “The child may share it with their siblings, parents, grandparents, neighbors or friends.”