February 21, 2011 10:41:00 AM
The Operation Christmas Child Columbus Collection Center received a record 18,662 packed shoeboxes and plastic containers for the Samaritan''s Purse project during the 2010 year-end drive, reported OCC area coordinator Nelda Brown. This marks a four percent increase from 2009.
The Columbus Center receives boxes from the entire Golden Triangle, plus 11 surrounding counties.
"What an awesome honor we have to serve as one of the collection centers for the state of Mississippi," said Brown. "I''d like to thank all those who participated by packing a shoebox, and those who gave of their time and energy to load the three tractor trailers that were filled here in Columbus."
A celebration meeting will be held March 5 at Starkville''s First United Methodist Church. Those interested in attending should contact Amy Perkins at First Baptist Church in Columbus, 662-328-3915, for more information.
The state of Mississippi collected a total of 140,393 boxes. In the United States, the 2010 total was 5,503,963. Globally, collections were 8,123,087.
"Though these numbers are impressive, they represent a fraction of the children in the world who need to be reached with the gospel of Jesus, which is the purpose of the shoebox," Brown said.
The boxes filled with small gifts such as pencils, toys, headbands, hard candy, combs and toothbrushes are distributed to children in remote and under-served areas of the world by Franklin Graham''s Samaritan''s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization.
Southeast Regional Director Jamie Hardenbrook of Georgia reported an increase of 107 year-round volunteers in the Southeast region, bringing that total to more than 600 people. The region also broke the 600,000 mark of boxes collected for the first time.
"It''s been over a year since the earthquake in Haiti," Hardenbrook shared. "After the biggest response ever from Samaritan''s Purse to bring hope and healing to the people of Haiti, the Lord was able to arrange over 275,000 shoebox gifts to be distributed this past month, in partnership with 1,100 churches."
Hardenbrook noted an April 15 deadline for students ages 16-20 to apply to join a mission trip to distribute shoebox gifts to children in Uganda as part of Samaritan''s Purse Youth Program.
To learn more, contact Hardenbrook by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org, call 770-777-9342, or visit samaritanspurse.org.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.