This year, the Plant City Baptist Church in Lanett packed 470 boxes in person and 10 online for Operation Christmas Child, a Samaritan’s Purse project that delivers gift boxes to needy children around the world, according to the project manager. of the church and resource team member Susan Otto.

Otto said this was the most boxes the church has packed. It was also the third year that the church had sent volunteers to process the boxes in Atlanta.

“There the task is to inspect the boxes,” she said. “You have to go through that and make sure there aren’t any items that can’t be shipped. And these are items that when the boxes come into certain countries, and they have to go through customs, if they find any items there that are not acceptable, they’ll keep all the box of boxes out.

Otto said boxes are requested when packaged, when dropped off, and again at the Atlanta fulfillment center.

She said the boxes she and her team worked with at the processing center were being shipped to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

She expressed her enthusiasm that they were going.

“Another exciting thing that happened that day, we were able to process some of our own boxes,” she said. “It almost never happens that our boxes are passed while we were there. We took out some of the boxes and they had letters from members of our church there. “

Operation Christmas Child is a way to introduce children to Jesus and the gospel. Otto said that each gift box comes with a book called “The Greatest Gift,” a book about Jesus. After a child receives the book, they are invited to participate in a 12-step discipleship program called The Greatest Journey, which teaches them how to become disciples of Jesus.

“It is such a blessing to know that you are packing a box and sending it so that a child will know more about Jesus,” said Otto.

Otto said the materials are presented in the children’s native languages ​​and that the volunteers who work with them know their culture of origin.

The boxes are also filled with other small gifts, which Otto says are often the first gifts children receive.

“We try to wrap a ‘wow’ item that catches the child’s attention when they open the box, like a stuffed animal or a soccer ball or a special toy like a doll or a car or something like, ”she said.

“But we also pack school supplies because in many areas children are not allowed to go to school unless they can provide their own school supplies.”

Otto said other common gifts are soap and a washcloth or toothbrush. Members of her church contribute homemade dresses for small children.

The local drop-off location for the Valley, West Point, Lanett area is West End Baptist Church in Valley. Otto said that this year 1,500 boxes were collected in the area.

The boxes were then taken to the central drop-off point, Lakewood Baptist Church in Phenix City, which collected 17,724 boxes this year, according to Otto.

From there, they were taken to the Atlanta treatment center. Otto said that as of Wednesday, the Atlanta center processed 1.5 million boxes for the program.

“In the United States, we send millions of boxes every year,” she said. “And they’re excited by volunteers across the country from churches or civic organizations or just individuals who want to participate in the program.”

Otto said about 25 organizations in the region participated in Operation Christmas Child this year.

While it’s too late to donate items for this year’s operation locally (Samaritan’s Purse says there is still time to create an online shoebox), people can already donate items for the year. next. Items can be taken to any local organizations, primarily churches, participating in the program.

For more information on local donations, Otto can be contacted at (706) 588-8046 or by email at [email protected]

For more information on Operation Christmas Child, visit and select “Operation.

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