Harvest home to Christmas Child

Published 9:22 pm Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A shoebox is packed with small gifts and delivered to Harvest Church in Washington. From there it travels to Oakmont Baptist Church in Greenville, then on to Charlotte. From Charlotte, it will make its way to Charleston and onto container ships destined for countries all over the world.

This is Operation Christmas Child — where little gifts, like pencils and crayons, soap and socks, are packed in towns across the nation to make a journey to children in need worldwide. Operation Christmas Child is part of Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief agency, and is called the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind. Included in each shoebox is the message of Christ, a message that has been translated into 70 different languages and sent off to a country, or region, accordingly.

“It’s a unique approach to present the story of Jesus to children across the world,” said John Groesser, who heads up the Operation Christmas Child collection center in Greenville. “It truly is a gift of joy. The other gift would be the discussion and the gift of sharing Jesus Christ.”

Groesser said last year the eastern region turned out 9,300 shoeboxes destined for foreign lands. This year, he’s aiming for 10,000.

A good amount of those 10,000 will come from Harvest Church, a relay center for Beaufort and a few surrounding counties.

According to local coordinator Laura Nicholls, Harvest Church has been invested in at least 15 years of the project’s 20 years, if not more, and came about because the church was looking for more involvement from the church community.

“We got a much better response with Operation Christmas Child,” Nicholls said. “It just seems to be more fun for people to pack the shoeboxes and buy the things that go inside. It’s been very successful for us.”

Last year, 125 members of her own church donated boxes full of useful, and fun, items, while collecting about 1,000 boxes from the region. This year, Nicholls is encouraging anyone and everyone to participate.

“It’s a great program,” Nicholls said.  “You’ll get blessed for doing it and it’s just a lot of fun to know that these kids will be getting things they wouldn’t normally have. I recommended it to anybody to get involved.”

Collection of the boxes will take place the week of Nov. 18 – 25. For more information about Operation Christmas Child, drop off hours and how to pack a shoebox, call Laura Nicholls, Tuesday through Thursday, at 252-833-4894, or visit www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/.