As National Volunteer Week (April 15-21) draws near, Operation Christmas Child is offering local residents a chance to join a volunteer team and make a difference around the world in Jesus’ name.
Highland County residents have long participated in the Samaritan’s Purse project that has delivered more than 157 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 160 countries since 1993. This year the Hillsboro First United Methodist Church will be the central dropoff location for the five-county South Central Ohio Area Team.
The area encompasses Highland, Adams, Brown, Clinton and Fayette counties and has a goal to collect 17,000 shoeboxes this year.
“National Volunteer Week is a great time to become a part of this international project,” said Barbara Lanctot, a Wilmington resident who heads up the South Central Ohio Team for Operation Christmas Child (OCC) this year. “Joining an Operation Christmas Child Area Team is an amazing way to give back year-round and share God’s love with children in need.”
Lanctot said there will be two important events held at the Hillsboro First United Methodist Church in the coming months.
The first event will be a Project Leader Workshop scheduled for 7 to 8:30 p.m. July 12. Lanctot said it will be for anyone who leads an OCC group and will discuss new resources, the importance of OCC, and what happens after the shoeboxes are collected.
The second event will be a Full Circle Seeker from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 10. An individual from the Ukraine who received an OCC shoebox when she was 10 will speak at that function.
“She will tell the story of how she grew up, what happened when she and her siblings received shoebox gifts, and how she ended up the United States,” Lanctot said.
She said that Hillsboro will be a hub of activity during shoebox collection week Nov. 12-19 when groups from across the five-county area will be delivering boxes to the Hillsboro First United Methodist Church.
Lanctot said she has been filling shoeboxes for more than 20 years and has been a year around OCC volunteer for six years. She said her passion has spread to her family and that they all get together once a year to fill shoeboxes.
“I saw a news article on a moving TV program and how easy it would be to help children just by filling a shoebox, and helping spread the word of God around the world,” Lanctot said. “I was hooked the first time I saw that message and I haven’t stopped filling shoeboxes since.”
Each year approximately 150,000 U.S. volunteers help transform empty shoeboxes into expressions of God’s love by packing them with toys, school supplies and hygiene items. Operation Christmas Child partners with local churches worldwide to deliver the gifts to children suffering from poverty, natural disaster, war, terror, disease and famine. For many of these children, this is the first gift they have ever received, a news release from Samaritan’s Purse said.
“The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the good news of Jesus Christ,” the news release said.
To learn more about joining the South Central Ohio Area Team or to apply for leadership opportunities, visit samaritanspurse.org/volunteerwithOCC or call Lanctot at 937-218-1964.
Lanctot said she would like to let Highland County residents know how important they are to OCC, and “secondly encourage them to pack one more shoebox. We don’t have enough for all the children in need.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or firstname.lastname@example.org.