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Local churches help with Operation Christmas Child

In 1993 Samaritan’s Purse began Operation Christmas Child to transform the lives of children around the world. Twenty-six years later, the project is still flourishing, with 20 area churches in Franklin County participating.

Local churches begin in September to collect shoeboxes filled with small gifts for a boy or girl to be sent to Operation Christmas Child. Once those boxes are collected, they are shipped to a central location, where they will join the rest of the boxes collected in that area before making a trip to the region headquarters.

“For our area, the boxes are shipped to Atlanta, where someone there will inspect every box before shipping these boxes out to children in different countries,” said northwest Alabama logistics coordinator Oscar Beck.

Volunteers from the Russellville First Baptist Church spent Monday loading boxes onto three different large trucks to be sent to Atlanta the next day. Russellville FBC serves as the central location for the northwest Alabama area of Lauderdale, Lawrence, Colbert, Winston, Marion and Franklin counties.

Beck said in the northwest Alabama area, about 9,000 boxes were collected. The goal for Operation Christmas Child this year is to have 11 million boxes donated from among the 500 central locations across the country.

Although the boxes sent across the world will contain small gifts, each box will also share the message of Christ to each child and give them the opportunity to participate in a 12-week program to learn more about the Bible.

“That is the best part, to me – knowing that these children are receiving God’s word through this,” said northwest Alabama area coordinator Leah Yocom.

Operation Christmas Child and Russellville First Baptist Church thanked the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office for helping with the loading and unloading of the boxes.

For more information about Operation Christmas Child or to volunteer, visit samaritanspurse.org/praywithocc.