Operation Christmas Child Gets Underway In Highland County
Doe Hill, VA – In the days of ancient Israel, Samaritans and Jews despised each other. But the Bible tells of the day that Jesus told his followers about a good Samaritan – a traveler who helped a robbery victim lying alongside the road – after other Jews had ignored the victim’s plight. Speaking well of a Samaritan must have shocked Jesus’ audience, but Jesus always taught that mercy, generosity and compassion were important, whereas a person’s family, tribe or ethnic origin were not.
To obey Jesus’ teaching of generosity and compassion, many modern-day Christians launch a mission during the holiday season known as Operation Christmas Child. The project was started by Reverend Franklin Graham, the son of legendary evangelist, Billy Graham. Across the USA, people are packing shoeboxes full of gifts, school supplies and necessary items, to be sent to needy children around the world. Last year, Operation Christmas Child delivered 8.2 million gift boxes around the world.
On a starry night in the tiny village of Doe Hill, Virginia, last Thursday, members of the Busy Bee 4-H Club cut up old Christmas cards to decorate shoeboxes and filled the boxes with gifts that will surely delight a child in a far corner of the world. Children of various ages chattered as they decorated the shoeboxes and adults supervised closely to make sure the boxes were packed correctly. 4-H club leader Lori Botkin says the packages will go to children who literally have nothing.
“It gives us a chance to share what we have with kids who have nothing,” she said. “I’ve seen some of the videos of some of the places these things have gone and these kids have nothing. For us, just to be able to give them a toothbrush is amazing. I told them a story of a little girl that was so excited that she got a toothbrush, because she lived in an orphanage where she shared a toothbrush with 12 other kids.”
Botkin says the children helping with the project get something, too.
“I like to see the kids participate and watch their eyes light up,” she said. “It really opens up their eyes and they get excited about sharing. What I’ve seen them do that really excites me is – they take it personally. They make a connection with that box for that child. That’s what I try to stress with them. We’ll make maybe 20 boxes tonight, but what I try to tell them is, ‘ it’s one box, one child, one life and every box is important.’
Seventh-grader James Musick said the packages have more importance than the gifts they contain.
“It’s a lot just to know that people care about you,” he said. “The things that you send them, of course, they’re going to bring them joy and happiness. But the feeling that somebody – it really matters that you get this stuff – it matters that someone cares enough to go to the effort to do this. It will probably make them feel pretty swell.”
High school student Kayla Simmons has been helping with Operation Christmas Child for the last four years. The youngster says helping with the project makes her feel good.
“I think it’s an important project because everyone needs to be know they’re loved in the world and there’s people out there that care,” she said. “Knowing that there’s some little kid out there that’s going to open it up on Christmas and know that there’s someone out there who cares – it gives you that feeling.”
Children receive the packages with no qualification or obligation, but the children receive a pamphlet with their package that tells them where they can go, in their area, to receive more information on Christianity.
Operation Christmas Child invites everyone to prepare and send a package for a child in need. Packages will be collected at drop-off points for one week between November 14 and November 21. Local drop-off points include Healing Springs Baptist Church in Hot Springs; McDowell United Methodist Church in McDowell; Chapel on the Mount at Snowshoe and Covington Bible Church.
For information on how to prepare a package, see samaritanspurse.org on the web or call Lori Botkin at 540-396-3571.