The Operation Christmas Child season came to a close Monday, just 22 shoeboxes shy of its 3,400 goal.
“We did get a few last-minute donations,” said Debbie Patterson, who was preparing shoeboxes for shipment on Monday alongside Debra Young and volunteers. “We had 3,375 boxes. At the last minute, we received three more, bringing the total to 3,378.”
Rather than being disappointed at the near miss, Patterson was delighted in the community’s show of support.
“We received a lot of support from the community,” she said. “Interact students were wonderful again. People who had never donated before donated this year. Pioneer Community Church didn’t participate last year. This year, members donated 175 shoeboxes.”
A 13-year-old child led the church.
“My daughter Kayla did it,” said Pioneer Community Church senior pastor Jon Ballard. “We ordered 200 boxes from Samaritan’s Purse. They built a Christmas tree out of them. She got up in front of the church and said we’ve got 200 families around the world we would like to impact with the gospel. She asked how many were going to join in with her. It took two Sundays, but the Christmas tree was gone – all 200 boxes.”
While 175 were filled and returned to the church, others may have been dropped off at the collection center, says Ballard.
“We ended up getting back 175 shoeboxes. My wife and I helped her, but she would go through the boxes to make sure everything was OK with them and make sure they were all secured. Some of the others may have been delivered. We don’t know, but what we delivered was 175. It’s neat to watch your daughter do something like this.”
Kayla says she was called to do it.
“I felt this was an opportunity to worship God and do what He wanted me to do,” she said.
When asked if she felt called to participate, Kayla added, “Yeah, I did. I want to participate again next year. It was fun to see the church get involved in helping spread the word.”
Since 1933, the Samaritan’s Purchase project, Operation Christmas Child, has collected and delivered more than 124 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 150 countries and territories.