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May 18, 2024

Operation Christmas Child

Project will benefit families in need

By Lyndsi Naron

The Bolivar Bullet

Anne McMaster and her father, Don McMaster, are leading the Operation Christmas Child program this year at Morrison Chapel Baptist Church. 

“We are part of the MS Delta Area Team which encompasses 10 counties in our Delta Area,” said Anne. “The team is made up of volunteers who work year-round to plan, prepare, and work toward a productive collection season.”

Anne shared that her father has been a Baptist Minister of Music for over 45 years and she grew up spending much of her time at church.

“My dad is currently retired, but serving as a part-time minister at Immanuel Baptist Church in Cleveland,” said Anne. “I teach at Presbyterian Day School, and I am involved in many of the ministries of Morrison Chapel Baptist Church. I remember packing Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes a few times as a child, but I really became involved when the MCBC ‘Project Leader’ was moving and asked me to take over.”

Anne said that since 1993, more than 209 million children in over 170 countries and territories have received a shoebox. 50 million children have been discipled through Samaritan’s Purse’s “The Greatest Journey” 12 lesson discipleship program.

“Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse that delivers gift-filled shoeboxes to children around the world in Jesus’ Name,” said Anne. “This is a tangible expression of God’s love as ministry partners (churches in the areas where boxes are passed out) share the Good News of Jesus Christ, God’s Greatest Gift.”

Anne shared that she loves being involved in Operation Christmas Child each year. 

“My passion is to love and care for children, and a big part of that is helping them learn about God’s Love,” said Anne. “I get to do this every day for my kids at PDS, but there are so many more children in the world who need love, care, and a knowledge of Jesus. This ministry of Samaritan’s Purse allows me to equip Gospel-minded believers in other countries with tools (fun gifts, teaching materials, and training to use them) that will allow them to share Jesus with children and families in their areas. My prayer is that God will bless these efforts, and bring many people to know Him!”

Anne said people all over America, and in other sending countries around the world, are encouraged to pick a medium sized shoebox and decide whether they want to pack for a boy or girl. The age groups are broken down into 2-4, 5-9, and 10-14 in order to make sure the boxes will interest the children who receive them. 

“They should pick a WOW item that will be fun and exciting as soon as the child opens their box; this could be a doll, fluffy stuffed animal, soccer ball with pump, toy truck or car, fun game to play with friends, etc,” said Anne. “Next, people are asked to fill in the rest of the space in the box with fun and useful items (school supplies, hygiene items, clothing, other toys and fun items). Boxes should be FULL, FUN, and of lasting quality. Our favorite saying is, “we don’t want to ship air.” We love to include a letter to the child and a picture as well. We have heard back from two girls who got boxes we packed in 2022, and they both mentioned how they loved to read our letters! Operation Christmas Child requests that packers donate $10 to cover the teaching materials, training for the churches who present the Gospel, and the actual shipping and processing that gets the boxes to the kids!”

Anne said Samaritan’s Purse has “Ministry Partner Teams” in countries where they do work all over the world. These teams pray and work with local churches and ministries to decide where shoeboxes could make the greatest impact for growing local churches and bringing families to faith in Jesus Christ.

“Container ships and semi-trucks take the containers to their destination country,” said Anne. “Local Ministry Partners (churches/ministry groups within the countries) transport them to churches and communities who will host distributions where they present the Gospel and then give the boxes as a physical representation of God’s love.”

The boxes are inspected at the processing center to make sure they do not include anything that isn’t approved by Customs, or anything that would be on the “Do Not Include List” on the website such as liquids, foods, and military items.

“’Scary’ items go against the Good News point of the boxes, and many children who are receiving boxes have been exposed to war, therefore military items are avoided to keep from bringing up these difficult memories,” said Anne. “We want shoeboxes to be fun and exciting. Many kids (but not all) who receive shoeboxes live in impoverished or war-torn areas. They may have never received a gift before. Since this gift is a tangible representation of God’s Love, we want boxes to be full, fun, of good quality, and covered in prayer. Toys, games, school supplies, non-liquid toiletries, clothing, personal items, and useful items are all great things to pack, but since we want to focus on fun, toys are top of the list.” 

Anne shared that donating money online and building a shoebox online are also wonderful ways to be involved. Money goes toward the boxes themselves, the gospel literature and teacher training materials (produced in over 97 translations), as well as the actual logistics and shipping. 

“The ministry of Operation Christmas Child, and the other programs that Samaritan’s Purse uses to share the Love of Christ throughout America and the world, have helped me to better understand the width and depth of God’s love for us and His amazing commitment to that love, even when we are so undeserving,” said Anne. “Every step deeper into this ministry that I take, shows me how God’s hand is on the work and organization during every part of the planning and execution of these Samaritan’s Purse projects. Samaritan’s Purse sent a Disaster Relief team who helped right after the flooding in Shelby, Mount Bayou, and Rosedale in 2021. They also sent teams to Rolling Fork and surrounding areas after the tornado. I am so glad that God has allowed me to be connected with this ministry that puts the sharing of the Gospel Truth as its first goal, and the helping of God’s children (young and old) as a close second.”

Anne shared there are drop off sites all over Mississippi and the United States, so anyone, anywhere can donate. 

“There are quite a few churches in the Cleveland area who pack shoeboxes. Some have members pack as a family, and some do packing parties in addition,” said Anne. “Immanuel Baptist Church has already had their packing party. Morrison Chapel’s will be on Sunday evening, November 5th at 6:00 PM. We encourage people to reach out to the church they attend to see if they can get involved there. Anyone is welcome to join us at the Morrison Chapel packing party though! Bring a toy (or a few) and come ready to pray!”

You do not have to be affiliated with a church to donate. Anyone and everyone is welcome to donate boxes to Morrison Chapel Baptist Church during National Collection Week. Please see below dates and times for drop off.  

MCBC Drop Off Site Collection Hours:

Mon, Nov. 13:

3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Tue, Nov. 14: 

11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Wed, Nov. 15: 

3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Thu, Nov. 16: 

11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Fri, Nov. 17: 

3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Sat, Nov. 18: 

9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Sun, Nov. 19: 

3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Mon, Nov. 20: 

8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

“During National Collection Week (November 13-20), boxes should be brought to MCBC to be counted and packed in cartons,” said Anne. “We will take them to our closest Central Drop Off center where a tractor trailer will pick them up and take them to a Processing Center. Boxes from our area usually go to Atlanta.”

If you would like to learn more about the shoebox process; how to pack a box, what to pack or not pack, where to drop off materials, how to build a shoebox online, or other donation options please go to samaritanspurse.org.