This year the Carrollton Baptist Association celebrates its 20th year of participation in Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child project. While the operation overall has been around since 1993, the association’s participation began in 2000 under the leadership of the Reverend Dan Dockery, Associational Missionary for the CBA.
Operation Christmas Child is a project in which people choose an age group or bracket, obtain a shoebox, and fill it with items that would be beneficial to a child in a developing or third-world country. Depending on the age bracket chosen, boxes may include school supplies, stuffed animals, toys, blankets, small hammers and a container of nails, fishing line and a container of hooks, soccer balls with pumps, socks, toothbrushes, washcloths and hand towels, and even sewing kits. Boxes are not only collected in America, but Canada, England, and other countries as well. This year’s worldwide goal is 11 million boxes.
The Reverend Dockery first saw the opportunity for the CBA to participate back in 1999, and started the journey in 2000. “Back when they first came out we just saw the opportunity to do something internationally. We couldn’t always go, but we could give,” said Rev. Dockery. CBA decided to offer its associational office at 736 Stewart Street as a drop-off location, but it started small. “I think the first year we had 300, but it’s just continued to grow,” he said.
Fast forward twenty years, and this year they have collected 3592 total, twelve times more than the first year, which greatly exceeded their expectations given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. “We did not know with COVID this year how it was going to pan out, but we will have taken in more boxes this year than we did last year which is pretty amazing. This will actually be the largest number we’ve had in several years,” Rev. Dockery said. “COVID has not seemed to slow people in giving, and that’s been really neat,” he added.
While many boxes come from CBA member churches, other denominations of churches and even individuals, organizations, schools, businesses, and other groups have participated, including the West Metro Board of Realtors, local civic clubs, Chick-fil-A, and Bay Springs Middle School.
From the CBA office, staff and volunteers take the shoeboxes and/or items donated, pack them in cartons, and then take them to a collection center set up in Peachtree City to be prepped for shipping to various locations all over the world, including countries in Africa, South America, Europe, southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
Among the groups not only collecting boxes but also volunteering to load the truck at the CBA this year has been the West Metro Area division of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. “Carrollton Baptist Association is such a big part of the local church in this community. We just thought it would be a great opportunity to come and give back and serve the local church,” said Jay Webb, Area Director of the West Metro FCA. “There’s a two-fold role for FCA with Operation Christmas Child. The first one was to be here to serve and pack boxes, and we knew that was going to be a big need. The second role was to try to get involved in our school-level huddles, and some of them to take on the project of collecting boxes. It’s a good way for our students to give back,” he added.
To learn more about Operation Christmas Child, visit https://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/.