Religion feature: Church partners with charity

CNJ staff photo: Benna Sayyed Wayne Boydstun, Operation Christmas Child relay center coordinator at Parkland Baptist Church in Clovis, prepares for OCC 2011 by packing a shoebox with items to be sent to children in disadvantaged countries.

Benna Sayyed

This Christmas an impoverished child living in a third-world country will open a gift that came from Clovis.

Parkland Baptist Church is partnering with Operation Christmas Child to ship holiday wrapped shoe boxes containing items such as school supplies, toys, hygiene items and notes of encouragement to underprivileged children in 100 countries worldwide.

Operation Christmas Child is a volunteer-based aid organization and is the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind, according to Julie Smith, media relations associate for Operation Christmas Child.

“The shoe boxes not only represent helping a child with some physical needs and a few wants but it also is an opportunity to share with each one of them the message of Jesus Christ,” said Wayne Boydstun, Operation Christmas Child relay center coordinator at Parkland Baptist Church.

According to Boydstun, Operation Christmas Child collected more than 1,700 shoe boxes in the Clovis-Portales-Farwell area last year. This year’s goal is to gather 2,500 shoe boxes. Boydstun said that the organization amassed 8.2 million shoe boxes worldwide, with the U.S. providing 5.2 million of these.

“Every year we try to grow it, and increase it, and publicize it, and encourage other churches, other civic organizations, schools, whoever wants to get involved to get involved with us,” Boydstun said.

The gifts carry the message of Jesus Christ in a child’s native language and go to countries where war and strife are prevalent and children live in poverty, he said.

Gift givers can track their gifts via the Internet.

Aileen McAllister, head of Operation Christmas Child at Calvary Baptist Church in Portales, has participated in the charity for 12 years. This year her church ran an Operation Christmas Child booth in the Peanut Valley Festival and got a head start on donations by giving out 188 shoe boxes for people to fill.

She said many other folks preferred to use the plastic storage containers reusable to recipients for other purposes such as carrying water.

“Please consider filling a shoe box with small gift items for these children. In some countries it’s the only gift they’ll ever receive,” McAllister said.

Boydstun has seen the collection process through to the processing center in Denver but his goal is to travel with Operation Christmas Child to a distribution point in another nation to bring his service full circle.

“To participate in distribution, to see the children who receive them would be a lot of fun. I’ve seen lot of videos and lots of pictures but it would be great to be in person,” Boydstun said.