Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs and project volunteers prepare to cut the ribbon. / W.C. Mann
CULLMAN – On Monday morning, representatives of three area churches, along with Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs, gathered at Northbrook Baptist Church to begin National Collection Week (Nov. 13-17) for the area’s Operation Christmas Child (OCC) shoebox gift campaign. After devotional remarks by Andrew Seigenthaler, pastor of last year’s drop-off church, Christ Covenant Presbyterian, Jacobs cut the ribbon to give the week an official kickoff.
OCC is an annual program of evangelist Franklin Graham’s international relief agency Samaritan’s Purse. The shoeboxes it sends all over the world are packed with small toys, clothing and personal care items, along with personal notes from the donors. They are delivered by trained ministers who use them as evangelistic tools to reach children and their families.
The Samaritan’s Purse website offers the following explanation: “As shoebox gifts are distributed, local pastors or church leaders present the Gospel in a fun way designed for kids while family and friends listen in. Along with their shoebox gift, children also receive The Greatest Gift, a colorful presentation of the Gospel in their own language.”
Northbrook, Crosshaven Church in Hanceville and Fairview United Methodist Church are the three designated shoebox drop-off points for Cullman County this year.
Northbrook Team Leader Laura Cleveland told The Tribune that her church has no shortage of volunteers, saying, “I have dozens signed up, but we have people who are just going to show up, so…lots!”
When asked how many boxes she expects to see around the county, Cleveland replied, “The goal for Cullman County is 10,000. Last year, I think around 8,600 was the number that was collected in Cullman, but we hope to get 10,000.
“Northbrook has packed boxes; we have a church goal of 600, and I think we have seen at least half of those already, before the kickoff. Small groups and individuals are packing boxes with us. A lot of churches have big packing parties, and bring them.”
Even though drop-off week is already underway, it is not too late to participate. Cleveland encouraged anyone who may not have time to pack a box to consider dropping off a check at one of the collection points, to help cover the $9 per box cost of shipping and delivery. Anyone who wants to try and get a box in during the week can contact one of the drop-off churches for information, or visit the Samaritan’s Purse website, where they can even purchase items online to be packed in boxes by OCC volunteers.
For more information, or to participate, visit www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child or call:
Northbrook Baptist Church – 256-734-6401
Crosshaven Church – 256-734-4140
Fairview United Methodist Church – 256-796-6641
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