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Mission Accomplished

Nicholasville collects over 19,000 boxes for charit

Nicholasville finished collecting 19,250 shoeboxes last month for Operation Christmas Child’s National Collection Week, making it possible to give what Communications Coordinator Bonnie Watkins says is a once-in-a-lifetime gift for a child in need.

The organization works to collect and distribute shoeboxes worldwide for children who have been affected by war, disease, disaster, poverty and famine.

“It changes their life,” Watkins said. “One hundred and forty six million shoeboxes have been given since the ministry started in 1993 in over 160 countries.”

Watkins said she started giving the gift of a shoebox when her son was around six years old. She became involved through her church, and said from Kentucky the shoeboxes are sent to Boone, North Carolina, where they are processed and shipped.

“You select a shoebox from your closet or buy a plastic box from Walmart and fill it with items such as school supplies, hygiene items, toys and other things like that,” Watkins said. “The items are for a child in a third-world country. Items such as socks, gloves, hats. Whatever you feel led to give.”

The mission of Operation Christmas Child, as part of an international Christian relief and evangilism organization, is to demonstrate God’s love to children in need and to share the news of Jesus worldwide. Once boxes are filled and processed, Watkins said they are shipped to children all over the world. Children then are presented with the gospel as they are  told about Jesus.

“They are told about Jesus and how he loves them,” Watkins said. “About how people here love Jesus and love them as well, and then they are presented with a gift. It changes their life.”

Delivery to these countries she said starts the week after Thanksgiving. Countries receiving packages  are Suriname, Togo, Lesotho, Ghana, Madagascar, Burundi and Tanzania. Watkins said she believes it is important for others to give, as she feels Operation Christmas Child becomes a tangible expression of God’s love by providing for children with needs.

“These are children who have never received a gift in their lifetime,” Watkins said. “Through the simple gift of a shoebox, we are able to impact their lives for eternity.”

There is still time to give, Watkins said. Those who wish to build a shoebox for a child in need can do so by going to samaritanspurse.org where they will be able to build a box online.

“It is a blessing to be able to reach a child with just a simple gift to meet their needs,” Watkins said.

For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child call 615-962-7145 or visit samaritanspurse.org/occ.