The idea of filling a shoe box-sized container with items ranging from a toothbrush to underwear and socks, pencils, candy, toys and Christian literature has certainly caught on in the Fulton, Sharp, and Izard County areas.
"This year, 29 churches, organizations and individuals collected 1,080 shoeboxes," said Spring River Area Co-ordinator Carolyn Bain. "That exceeded our goal of 825 gift boxes. This means that even more children throughout the world, who virtually have nothing, will hear the message of Christ's love for them."
Bain is a member of the Immanuel Southern Baptist Church, on Highway 9 in Salem. It began participating in the program four years ago and has helped it grow n the area.
In 2009, 13 churches and organizations in our area participated, collecting 744 shoeboxes. 16 more participants this year led to more boxes being collected.
Operation Christmas Child is an outgrowth of Samaritan's Purse, a charitable organization founded by Franklin Graham to help people in developing countries cope with poverty, disease, famine, war and natural disasters.
In our area, Immanuel Southern Baptist sought partner churches and organizations, provided information on how boxes should be filled, and was the collection point for the 1,080 boxes the drive produced.
The Spring River area collection was taken to Mountain Home where it was trucked to Atlanta, Georgia and, from there, shipped to more than 100 countries around the world.
The goal for North Central Arkansas was 8,000 boxes. While the total, 7,603 boxes, fell a little short of the goal, our area led the way.
"Give yourself a pat on the back if you participated because the Spring River area collected the largest number of shoebox gifts in North Central Arkansas," said Bain.
Bain, a volunteer who has traveled on mission trips and actually seen the joy of children who receive shoebox gifts, is promising to lead the drive again next year.