It’s GO Time: Packing the Shoebox for Operation Christmas Child Underway at Free Methodist Church | New

Red and green shoe boxes fill the sanctuary of the Free Methodist Church on Troy Road. These boxes, known as God’s Opportunity or GO boxes, will be shipped worldwide in the coming weeks with the goal of spreading God’s love to all children. The efforts are all part of Operation Christmas Child hosted by Samaritan’s Purse.

Over two decades ago, members of the Free Methodist Church in Washington began collecting items to be neatly stored in red and green shoe boxes that would be sent around the world.

Many years, thousands of boxes have been assembled by members of the congregation who gather at Troy Road Church for packing parties. In fact, in 2018, 3,000 boxes were packed by church members alone. During these wrapping parties, volunteers carefully select the items, many of which were collected by longtime volunteer Eddie Martin, and created boxes for boys and girls ages 2-14. Martin passed away a year ago this month, but Operation Christmas Child and Martin’s Legacy lives on.

“We will never forget that we were mentored by Nelson (Eddie) Martin, who passed away last year, for almost 20 years in this important endeavor. His legacy lives on, ”said Steve Sacksteder, who over the past few years has worked closely with Martin on the project. “Shoe boxes have changed the lives of so many children, their families and their communities since 1993, and we are privileged to be a part of this joyful mission. Every shoebox is a seed that spreads the good news of the gospel, and those seeds are having an exponential impact around the world.

The packaging of the boxes still looks a little different this year due to the pandemic. In the past, large packing parties with several volunteers were held at the church. Now, packing events for the congregation are held in small groups.

“These packing events, each focused on one of six age and gender groups, included our Senior Time group, our men’s group, our women’s group, our teen group, our training groups. of men’s discipleship and our women’s discipleship group, ”said Sacksteder, who said in all, church members packed nearly 1,400 boxes. “Additionally, we will be packing shoe boxes next week using items left by our last six packing crews.”

Once again this year, The Stitching Post donated fabrics and patterns for 220 dresses to make and give away, adding that little extra to some of the locally produced GO boxes.

“The Stitching Post provided free dress-making kits and fabric to its customers, who then made the dresses, each with a personal note attached for the recipient child.” said Sacksteder who said the Washington Walmart staff were also good at educating the OCC committee on sales and promotions on items that might work for the boxes.

Getting items at a good price was important this year, as Sacksteder said the usual fundraisers used to cover the cost of items placed in GO Boxes could not take place.

“We usually have a clearance sale and have food stalls and other activities,” he said. “Nonetheless, we were able to collect so many shoeboxes thanks to the generous donations and volunteer service of our church family and other organizations and individuals. Another notable change is our curbside format for collecting shoeboxes. Donors do not need to enter our building to bring their shoeboxes, but are met and unloaded outside the building. Last year we required it, but this year it’s optional and information about shoebox deposits can be viewed online.

Sacksteder said there are several ways the community can help spread the word of God with shoe boxes called GO boxes. These include: wrapping and giving Shoebox gifts to children around the world; collect and donate shoebox items such as small toys, stuffed animals, children’s clothing, and hygiene items like soap and washcloths to their church or Free Methodist Church, volunteer to pack shoeboxes at a local church or club, and / or help WFMC during Fundraising Week, November 15-21 or by donating funds to local churches or other organizations in this goal of transformation, or to WFMC as the central drop-off point.

The OCC 2021 brochure “How to pack a shoebox” with the label of the boy / girl age category, packing instructions and even the ability to track each gift to its eventual destination is also available.

“Each gift is a tangible expression of God’s love, and it is often the first gift many young recipients have ever received. Also included in every donation are study programs that share the good news of the gospel, ”said Sacksteder. “We are very grateful to the community of Washington and Daviess County for their commitment to this important ministry in the past and we are asking for an extra special effort this year in light of the challenges of 2021. Despite many obstacles, this effort is too critical. Leave besides.

Sacksteder said the Free Methodist Church, which serves as a central drop-off point, received and shipped 10,222 shoe boxes last year. That number has dropped by about 10% due to COVID.

“The national OCC is down about 15% last year,” he said, adding that shoe boxes are also being brought to the church by Berea Mennonite Church, Word of Life, Vincennes First Baptist , Sullivan First Christian Church and White River Chapel United Methodist Church.

Wrapped boxes can be dropped off at the church, 1155 Troy Road, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 1 p.m. Sunday.

For more information on how you can help local efforts, contact Sacksteder at 812-887-2663.

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