Friday, November 22, 2013
The new Family Life Center at Ringel Heights Baptist Church has been bustling with activity this week in an effort to help millions of children worldwide have something this Christmas season.
The church is the area’s relay center for a Samaritan’s Purse project called Operation Christmas Child, a part of the Billy Graham Ministries which organizes efforts in 11 countries.
People make donations by placing a collection of small gifts in shoe boxes or similar-sized plastic containers.
Carol Rogers has been organizing the project at Ringel Heights for many years and said this year has been the most successful.
By Tuesday, the church had collected more than 1,230 gift boxes — more than 500 of those came from members of Ringel Heights.
Rogers said the goal for the region this year is 15,000 boxes which will be delivered to the Graham Ministries headquarters in Charlotte to be distributed to children in need.
While this week has been very busy for Rogers and a committee of others who have been helping get the boxes ready for delivery, it is the culmination of a year-long effort.
Rogers said she starts working on getting things organized as early as January each year. Then, by early fall she begins spreading the word about the need.
“I go to churches and civic groups to talk about it,” she said.
Rogers said although the response this year has been great, more help is needed for the goal to be reached.
What types of items can be placed in the shoe boxes or plastic containers?
Anything that is not perishable, liquid or would remind the children of the poverty and war-torn conditions in which they live, Rogers said.
Crayons, a T-shirt with the tag still on it, a toothbrush, a never-before-used soccer ball, dolls, toy cars, yo-yos, school supplies, socks, ball caps, watches. Those are a few suggestions of what can be in the boxes.
It is also recommended that a $7 check be placed in each box. That covers the cost of shipping the boxes to the children.
For many of the children, it will be the only gifts they receive this Christmas. For some, it will be the first gifts they have ever received.
Rogers said when she participated in the program for the first time many years ago, she knew she had found her calling.
“I believe God places people in different positions. I was raised in poverty and I believe that gives me the compassion I need to fill this position,” she said.
Because of the nationwide efforts, nearly 10 million children are expected to receive gift boxes this year.
The deadline for making donations is Monday. Rogers said she will be at Ringel Heights accepting gift boxes today through Monday so anyone can stop by to make a contribution to the project.
She said if anyone cannot get to the church by Monday, she will be making a trip to Charlotte to help get the shipments ready. She will make that trip Dec. 6, so anyone who would like to contribute boxes after Monday can call Rogers at 843-344-5947.
Ringel Heights Pastor Kenny Johnson said “there is no better way to share the gift of Christmas than by sharing with those in need.”