First Baptist VBS spreads love through Operation Christmas Child

Published 5:56 pm Tuesday, July 31, 2018

In the midst of July, Christmas is typically a far-away thought. Yet, for the children and youth participating in Vacation Bible School last week at First Baptist Church in Washington, the holiday may as be right around the corner.

With the walls festooned with giftwrapping and unseasonable holiday decor throughout the church’s fellowship hall, the more than 140 children and youth participating used their creativity to share the love of Christ with the world.

For the past eight years, FBC has participated in Operation Christmas Child by bringing filled shoeboxes for National Collection Week each November. These boxes are in turn sent to children around the world by Samaritan’s Purse, a Boone-based evangelical organization founded by the late Billy Graham.

CREATION: Marleigh Baker shows off a pipe cleaner creation that will eventually bring joy to another child through Operation Christmas Child. (Joy Stallings)

In November of 2017, the church decided to have an Operation Christmas Child packing party, filling 250 shoeboxes for drop off at Harvest Church. With the success of the packing party and a theme needed for the church’s annual Vacation Bible School, VBS organizer Joy Stallings discovered a OCC-based curriculum entitled “Joy 2 the World” on the blog of another VBS director who was happy to share.

“The Children’s Ministry Team took the idea and ran with it. To this day, they still do not have a manual but with team effort, they came up with Bible study lessons, OCC videos, music, crafts, snacks and more,” Stallings wrote in an email. “The Bible lessons came from the OCC “The Greatest Journey” which is the story of Jesus that was created for children around the world who receive the shoeboxes. Once the children receive their box, they are invited to come back to the local church or gathering place for a 12-week Bible study along with their families.”

Last week, VBS participants created handmade gifts that will be sent in shoeboxes to children around the world come December. From crayon drawings and lanyards to pipe cleaner animals, the creations will be shipped to the far corners of the earth in shoeboxes packed at the church in November.

KNITTING: Volunteers instruct VBS students in the art of embroidery. The items created will be packed into shoeboxes in November before being shipped to children around the world. (Matt Debnam/Daily News)

While creating the gifts and packing the shoeboxes is a large part of the endeavor, fundraising is an equally important aspect. Since it costs $9 to ship each box overseas, the boys and girls participating in VBS held a friendly competition to see which group could raise the most money. If the boys won, then Stallings, director of children and outreach, would be duct taped to a chair. If the girls won, then Greg Hombirg, minister of education and youth, would be duct taped to a chair.

At the end of the week, the kids raised a total of $1,000, with the boys edging out the girls. As a result of these fundraising efforts, 111 shoeboxes are now paid for. For more information about donating to ship a box, call FBC at 252-946-8074.