BRANDON — Thousands of shoe boxes poured into the Mount Vernon collection center at Brandon Baptist Church last week during the National Operation Christmas Child collection week. Donated boxes reach children all around the world with a special gift — the love of God.
“I’m so thrilled,” said Susan Long, collection center coordinator. “We weren’t for sure how things would turn out this year, especially with the economy, but we’ve had such a huge outpouring of support from the community. It’s been phenomenal.”
This year the collection center, which covers all of Knox County and four surrounding counties, has surpassed its goal with more than 12,000 boxes.
“We’ve already filled a 53-foot long trailer and are waiting on another,” Long said on Monday afternoon.
Not only have donations been stupendous but so have the volunteer efforts from church members, youth groups, the Mount Vernon Nazarene University softball team, and various churches from around the county.
“People have also donated fill items,” said Long, such as toys, school supplies, hygiene items, as well as other things like hard candy, sunglasses, hair clips and more during the week. These items were separated by appropriate gender and age groups to be packed by volunteers.
For Brandon Baptist Church this is the fourth year hosting a collection center. With their church involvement, 19 members will go to the Charlotte, N.C., OCC processing center to volunteer there.
Compared to last year, Long said the ministry has grown in support with more boxes donated and more volunteers helping.
“This is really exciting,” she said.
“This is wonderful,” said Marvin Haught, pastor. “Each one of these boxes will go to a child and in the process touch the lives of seven other people. I’m amazed at the community support and am excited to see what God is doing in this community.”
Until Dec. 25, there is still an opportunity to build a box online at www.samaritanspurse.org/occ to be delivered to a child overseas.