WHEATLAND – Over 20 volunteers helped to bring Christmas gifts from Wheatland to children all over the world.
Memorial Baptist was the central drop-off point this year and according to local coordinator Gleny Laffitte, there were 721 packed shoeboxes that were loaded on the trailer last Monday and transported to Crossbridge Church in Cheyenne.
The SW Wyoming region packed 8,776 shoeboxes this year.
“I think the cool story is just the way Platte County pulled together to collect so many boxes,” said Laffitte. “Even in this hard economy.”
Both Anthony and Gleny Laffitte worked to load their trailer last Monday morning and the couple drove the truck to the Cheyenne drop-off point.
“The boxes are shipped out to other countries from each processing center. Denver is where the boxes from our community will go when they leave Cheyenne.”
According to Samaritan’s Purse International Relief which has been operating for over 50 years, “The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to provide 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.”
A ministry that is headed up by Franklin Graham, son of the late Rev. Billy Graham, Samaritan’s Purse developed the mission within the ministry in 1993.
Samaritan’s Purse’s website says, “In the summer of 1993, Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham received a call from a man in England asking if he’d be willing to fill shoeboxes with gifts for children in war-torn Bosnia. Franklin agreed, but figured Christmas was months away. He forgot about the promise until he received a call back around Thanksgiving asking about the gifts.
“In the midst of the pandemic, children around the world need to know that God loves them and there is hope,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse. “A simple shoebox gift opens the door to share about the true hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ.”
Franklin asked his friend the late Pastor Ross Rhoads of Calvary Church of Charlotte to see if he could help with the need. A Sunday shortly afterward, Pastor Rhoads demonstrated for his congregation how to fill a shoebox with simple gifts and encouraged them to include a letter to the child as well. Within weeks, the church had 11,000 shoeboxes lining their hallways.”
Individuals, families, and groups still have time to transform empty shoeboxes into fun gifts. The project partners with local churches across the globe to deliver these tangible expressions of God’s love to children in need. Find a step-by-step guide on the How to Pack a Shoebox webpage.
The drop-off center at Memorial Baptist collected boxes for a week prior to loading the trailer to ship to Cheyenne. The shoe boxes were picked up from Family Dollar Store or were ordered online and could be plastic or cardboard.
People were also able to use regular shoe boxes. Each box gets a scanning code, and people can keep track of where their box ends up.
Memorial Baptist Church’s pastor, Chris Furl said, “Wheatland Bible has been doing it for years, and they wanted to transfer it over to somebody else, so we took it over. We love it. We’re excited and so glad to have Gleny head it up. I did it in North Carolina where their associational office is located and we did like 4,000 shoeboxes there and there were a ton more people there.”
Other churches that partnered with Memorial Baptist were, Chugwater Valley Church, First Christian Church, Impact Ministries, Wheatland Bible church and Valor Insurance Agency Kiwanis Kids along with many individuals in the community.
For decades, these small boxes, lovingly packed with toys and other items, have been delivered to millions of children around the world. As the world continues to wrestle with a global pandemic, children need joy and hope now more than ever
To keep the holiday spirit going, Memorial Baptist Church is having a special caroling event Dec. 17 with caroling beginning at 4:30 p.m. and soup and pie to be served directly following.