6th November 2019
At a small parish church in Suffolk, a resourceful group of young people have been working to make a difference to the lives of many precious children around the world.
For the last four years the congregation of around 40, have been encouraged to take part in Operation Christmas Child by their young people and students, aged 15-20.
The first year they filled around 30 shoeboxes and donated to cover the project costs. The following year they managed to raise enough money to fill 50 shoebox gifts! Knowing the importance of the suggested donation (which covers the costs of collecting, processing, and shipping the boxes, as well as providing training and project materials for local churches and groups overseas to lead safe, well-organised celebrations) the group felt it was important to raise the full £250 to cover their 50 shoebox gifts. To achieve this generous donation, they met regularly throughout the year to plan fundraising events, get together items for their shoeboxes and to pack them together.
Teresa, a member of their congregation remarked that, ‘Each box they pack is filled to the brim with quality items and contains: a hat, gloves, soap, flannel, toothbrush, comb, filled pencil case, notebooks, stickers and other stationery, balls, a cuddly toy, jewellery and hairbands for girls, and a selection of toys and puzzles.’
Between them this dedicated group of young people continue to collect, wrap and pack over 50 shoeboxes themselves each year. Their record currently stands at 66 shoeboxes, and they hope to exceed that number this year.
The young people also work to raise awareness of Operation Christmas Child in their village and at their schools. They hold regular coffee mornings and encourage villagers to knit items, like hats, gloves and puppets to go in their shoeboxes.
Operation Christmas Child Volunteer Marilyn, recently attended an event they held at the local cricket club where they raised approximately £300. Some of the junior cricket club members have also now started packing shoebox gifts this year as a result of their visit.
What is more their generosity does not stop there… The group also help send even more shoebox gifts on their way by partnering with the local volunteer team to load cartons of shoebox gifts into shipping containers at their local processing centre.
We give thanks to God for the group’s commitment to the ministry of Operation Christmas Child. While they have very little disposable income between them, as they are either still in school, college or apprenticeships, God is using them in a powerful way and they feel very strongly about giving the best they can, to equip trained local church partners overseas to get shoebox gifts into the hands of children in their community.
As local volunteer Marilyn shared, “They are an inspiration to all those they meet and we hope they will encourage you too.”