Many churches across Northern Ireland have been getting involved in this year’s Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Appeal. The Church Page called at a warehouse just outside Ahoghill on Saturday (22nd Nov) to see the first of this year’s shoeboxes leaving, to be taken and distributed to children in Kosova – a journey which will take about 5 days. A total of 11,328 shoeboxes full of goodies were packed on the container and as you can see from the photo below it was a very full load! 6,641 of these boxes were from Ahoghill and the wider Ballymena area. There are also warehouses in Bangor, Belfast, Coleraine, Limavady, Kesh and Randalstown. The boxes from these areas will be going to Belarus, Bosnia, Romania and Swaziland.
We spoke to Linda Thompson, Regional Manager for OCC in Northern Ireland who said “Thanks so much to the many churches, schools, workplaces, clubs and individuals who yet again have given generously to this year’s Shoebox Appeal through financial donations, gift filled shoeboxes and time spent volunteering at a local processing centre or loading the lorry on export day. Also to those who are involved in the logistics of collecting, checking and packing the boxes, those who provide tea, coffee & buns! It takes a lot of volunteers in each area to allow the Shoebox Appeal to run smoothly and to ensure children in Eastern Europe, Africa & Central Asia receive their gift filled boxes. We could not do the project without the donors and volunteers…so thank you to each person who has been part of something amazing! You have provided a Gospel opportunity to a child in need this Christmas.”
What happens when the boxes reach their destination? Operation Christmas Child works in partnership with the local church and church leaders in the receiving countries. They determine who is best placed to receive these gifts, as they know their communities best. The boxes will be given to those children most in need – quite literally bringing them some love in a box! The children are also invited to attend a 12 week discipleship course called The Greatest Journey. They don’t have to attend this to get a shoebox, and will only be accepted on it with the consent of their parent or guardian. The Greatest Journey will take them on a 12 week journey through the Bible with a workbook to complete each week. Those who complete the course receive a New Testament in their own language. By the end of the 12 lessons each child will have a good knowledge of the Gospel.
Although this year’s Shoebox Appeal is almost over, maybe this is something you or your church would want to get involved in next year. If you want to find out more about Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Appeal please contact Linda Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org , check out their website here or keep up to date by liking them on Facebook here.