By CLINT FOSTER
Giving to those who need it most is the true spirit of Christmas and for the 17th year that attitude was on full display in Mineral Wells this week.
Kids from the youth group at First Baptist Church of Mineral Wells were busy packing boxes Wednesday night as part of National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child. The program, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, sends shoe boxes packed full of toys, school supplies and hygiene items for 9.8 million impoverished children in more than 100 countries worldwide, while sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
With each shoebox full of gifts, each child also receives a book with a 12 week course to lead them to Christ. Many places that have mission worker gather classes full of the children and use the book as course material with great results.
FBC Senior Adult Director and local OCC coordinator Ann Fidler said Northside Baptist church and First Baptist Church of Millsap contributed to between 220 and 230 boxes for needy kids collected this week.
Wednesday night, the youth group speedily packed 25 shipping boxes full of the smaller shoe boxes to spread the love of God this Christmas.
“They love to do it,” Fidler said. “Youth group actually raised $126 during the month of October. We used that money to purchase the stuff to make more boxes.”
Fidler told the Index they received an additional 130 boxes on Thursday.
Although the number of boxes collected so far this year is considerably less than in previous years – Fidler said in previous years they have collected approximately 600 boxes – Fidler encouraged the community that there is still time to bring in gifts for these kids that need them so much.
Any one can now build a box at any time with Operation Christmas Child’s year-round, online giving tool. On the project’s website, samaritanspurse.org, participants can select a child’s age and gender and shop through an online selection of gifts, virtually packing an empty shoebox and writing a note of encouragement. The box will then be packed by volunteers and shipped to the child on behalf of the donor. Participants can also now follow their boxes to the hands of their international child with tracking technology available through online registration.
“It gives individual people an opportunity to touch those that have nothing,” Fidler said of the ministry. “Not only do [the children] receive the gift of encouragement, but they can receive the gift of salvation.”
First Baptist Church at 100 SW 4th Avenue will be open to receive donations today from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, Sunday from noon to 1 p.m. and Monday from 8 to 10 a.m.
Collection sites are also located in Weatherford, Aledo, Eastland, Granbury, Springtown, Stephenville and Fort Worth.
For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, call 1-800-567-8580 or visit samaritanspurse.org.