Operation Christmas Child 2016 - it's a wrap!

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Severn Run had another amazing year serving and collecting for Operation Christmas Child. Each year Severn Run serves as a drop-off location during National Collection Week.

Here’s what happened this year:

  • 650 filled shoeboxes were returned to Severn Run
  • 3,657 shoeboxes were brought from outside the church and processed through the Church at Severn Run relay center
  • 24,940 shoeboxes were processed elsewhere and loaded at the Church at Severn Run filling four semi-trailers (representing a 9.5 % growth over last year's total)
  • Over 200 volunteer hours during collection week
  • The Church at Severn Run also sent 5 teams to the Baltimore processing center, totaling over 30 people

 

Operation Christmas Child offers a great opportunity to experience the spirit of Christmas that can leave lasting impressions. This opportunity also gives children a chance to be the hands and feet of Jesus. My wife, who had participated in gifting boxes as a child, recalls the impact that experience had on her in terms of understanding how she could share God's love with a little girl of her same age halfway around the world. She also enjoyed feeling connected to someone who would delight in the same things she did. This is something that she still thinks of now as she continues to support Operation Christmas Child each year.

 

As for me, this was my first year packing a box and I really enjoyed it! I saw a few interviews with children who had received boxes and spoke of the love and importance they felt after receiving their gifts, which lead them to coming to know Jesus as lord of their lives. This was very encouraging for me and I became excited to help out. I had a lot of fun putting myself in the place of a 10-14 year old boy when selecting gifts for my shoebox this year. It had been a while since I got to check out slingshots and toy cars. 

The true spirit of Christmas is exemplified in Operation Christmas Child, where simple gifts in shoeboxes bring pure joy and love to children around the world. Along with the shoebox gifts, each child is invited into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, which offers them the greatest gift that one could imagine. Samaritan's Purse estimates that over 150,000 volunteers have collected and distributed the shoebox gifts to 12 million children this year. This is a remarkable example of God's love for us as we share with those who could otherwise miss out on that love.

 

If you are interested in a life-changing experience with Operation Christmas Child, you don’t have to wait until next year. Here are some ways you can serve:

  • Being on the Church at Severn Run's lead team; which includes planning displays and setup fro Operation Christmas Child National Collection Week, serving at Chik-fil-a drop off days, and helping on Sunday's handing out shoeboxes, answering questions and such.
  • Operation Christmas Child has year-round volunteer opportunities available as well, of which both Elaine Stolarek-Houston and Pastor Steve are a part of. These teams include: Church Relations, Community Relations, Prayer team, Collection Network team, Student Relations, Media Relations, Admin Support, Logistics and Leadership.

We would love to have you on either of these teams. Please contact Pastor Steve at , or Elaine at , if you have questions or want to get involved.

 

Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes Impact Lives

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We are the Fishers - Steve, Carolyn, Ellie & Micah. Our family has participated in the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Collection for many years. We have packed shoeboxes for so long that the kids don't remember a time when we didn't pack them. Ellie & Micah love to shop for special and specific items for each shoebox. They always add a note with a picture in hopes that someday we might hear back from a child who received one of our shoeboxes. We also track our shoeboxes and learn about the countries where our shoeboxes are distributed.

For the last few years, we have volunteered at Severn Run during Collection Week, accepting shoeboxes from groups bringing them in and then packing them into shipping boxes that go to the Processing Center. The kids enjoy helping and it's great for them to be involved in another step in the process.

Last year was special for us. Ellie is in a Christian character development program called American Heritage Girls. As a sixth grader last year, Ellie was eligible to earn an award by fulfilling certain requirements, one of which was helping to plan, organize, and run a special event for the Troop. Since Operation Christmas Child is so special to her, she wanted to have a packing party and shoebox collection for her Troop.

Her goal for the Troop was to pack and collect 100 shoeboxes. With the support of Pastor Steve and Elaine at Severn Run, she planned and ran a very successful packing party and collection, even being recognized as the youngest Project Leader at an OCC Project Leaders’ Workshop.

After more than 20 hours of planning, packing, and delivering shoeboxes to drop off locations, our Troop exceeded its goal and collected 120 shoeboxes! We also took some of the girls from our Troop on a tour of the OCC Processing Center and met a young lady who received a box when she was a child.

Ellie is hoping to either run the packing party and shoebox collection again this year, or have the opportunity to mentor a younger girl as that girl leads the project. We are also excited that Ellie will be old enough to volunteer at the Processing Center this year, and may even spend part of her birthday there.

We are thankful to American Heritage Girls for the opportunity for Ellie to develop her leadership skills and to Severn Run for all the encouragement and support they have provided for Ellie and our family.

We are looking forward to a great year with Operation Christmas Child and praying for everyone here as they are packing shoeboxes, and the children and families around the world who will receive a shoebox this year!


 

There is still time to fill a shoebox, sponsor mailing, or volunteer for our distribution center! Contact the church today to learn more.

Posted by Carolyn Fisher with

Operation Christmas Child – Teaching the Virtue of Generosity

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As a teacher of a Christian faith-based preschool, I teach virtues as a way of encouraging young children’s moral development as well as modeling the very characteristics of our Lord Jesus Christ. During the month of November, the virtues of thankfulness and generosity are emphasized. For three and four year olds, I define thankfulness as, “being appreciative of all that you have and are” and generosity as, “happily giving away something that belongs to you.”

I have participated in the Operation Christmas Child (OCC) program at Severn Run for many years. God spoke to my heart when I realized that having my preschoolers and their families participate in OCC would provide a wonderful family-building experience as well as a real-life application of our November virtues.

Having already talked about and modeled the virtues of thankfulness and generosity within the classroom, I introduce the OCC program by reading Boxes for Katje written by Candace Fleming. It is a post World War II story about an American girl who sends packages filled with needed supplies to a girl living in Holland. After explaining the OCC program, we discuss the differences between needs and wants and then brainstorm about what items could be packed into a box. I later show them my completed OCC box. This whole process builds excitement about collecting and buying items to “happily give away!”

Newsletters to the families explain the program and while it is a prime example of modeling our virtues, it is completely voluntary. Children are able to show off their boxes to their peers, thereby further increasing participation and excitement.

Not only did I advertise the OCC program to the preschool families but in its second year, I also introduced it to the Methodist Church, which houses the preschool where I teach. Both the preschool and church families return the filled boxes to me. Now a mainstay at the preschool and church, OCC is continuing in its fifth year having provided 315 boxes!

What used to be two boxes filled with love and supplies from my family has grown to an average of 78 boxes per year donated by many families. While the ultimate goal is helping children in poverty-stricken areas, children here at home are learning spiritual and moral behaviors that hold the hope of glorifying God for a lifetime!

Posted by Jen Holcomb with

Operation Christmas Child – Ideas for your Boxes

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Christmas gifts in shoe boxes given to children all over the world. What a neat idea! Who came up with this idea?

Those were my questions many years ago, when I first came across this awesome program that brought joy, happiness and laughter to kids all across the world.

What is so interesting about Operation Christmas Child (OCC), is the fact that these delightful gifts are distributed at various times during the calendar year. Therefore, Christmas comes at different times for these beautiful girls and boys. I can imagine the squeals of joy and exuberance when they open their boxes of gifts wrapped with love and kindness from men, women and kids all across the USA. I was truly fascinated by this program. In those early years, I never packed a box, but I would sponsor the shipping costs of a number boxes.

Fast-forward to the year 2013 when I got connected to the Church at Severn Run. Here was my opportunity to be fully involved in this program. 

Giving has always come naturally to me. I never give it a second thought. I can remember as early as when I was 12 years old, I was involved in significant giving that brought changes to the lives of poor children who lived only about 5 miles from our home.

So in November 2013, our family ventured to get fully committed to OCC. We were so happy to be part of such great operation. We set out to make list of items that we think would bring joy to these children. We followed the guidelines given by OCC program as to what is appropriate, and we added other small, delightful items.

 

In the years, since 2013, our gift boxes have gotten larger with the addition of even more gifts of love. In 2015, I brought OCC to my work place, and I got coworkers to sponsor boxers. From that endeavor, OCC got 5 shoeboxes. My coworkers were so fascinated by the idea, and super excited to fill these boxes. They even sponsored the shipping costs for their boxes. 

Filling these boxes does not cost a lot.

Here are some ideas that my family and I have used to help fill these boxes without breaking the bank.

  1. Purchase school supplies during the summer months, they are all on sale.
  1. Look for the end of summer sales on toys, tee shirts and other small gift items.
  1. Dollar Store has great offers, such as 4 pack toothbrushes and multi-pack bar soaps.
  1. All through the year, I am on the look out for items, Flea markets can yield new and almost new toys.

OCC continues to inspire me. We can never out give God, and our investments in these children from poverty stricken lands will be rewarded.


Have you started your OCC Shoebox? Pick up and drop off your box at Severn Run this week!

 

Posted by Violet Anderson with

Operation Christmas Child – The Power of a Shoebox

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The Operation Christmas Child (OCC) Shoebox Program is amazing, but if you think it is only about giving gifts at Christmas to needy children in the far reaches of the world you are greatly underestimating the power of a Shoebox. My family wasn’t going to church when we were first introduced to the shoebox. In fact, we were a little fed up with church at the time perceiving it mostly as a self-serving overly righteous entity. Harsh I know, but that’s exactly what happens when hearts get hardened.

My son was in Cub Scouts at the time, and the Den Mother presented an idea for a service project. She talked about this program that she had been doing with her sons for a number of years. The premise was to pack a shoebox with supplies for a child who essentially had nothing. We were immediately on board. We could use this program to teach our son about giving to others, how there are children in the world who live with so much less (not even electricity for video games), as well as the practical nuances of budgeting. We were invited to fill a shoebox on our own, or bring a couple of things from the list that the boys could all pool together to pack a couple of boxes collectively. After hitting up Target for supplies, we made it back to the follow-up meeting where we had a “Packing Party,” and the boys put together the boxes. They had a blast pulling all the stuff together for these kids who were their age and less fortunate than them. The Den Mother shared pictures and stories from some of the brochures of children who had received boxes in the past and showed us how we were going to track our boxes to see where in the world they went.

We met up later that week, full of excitement, to drop our box off at a Distribution Center at a nearby church. The people at the church were kind, not pushy, and genuinely passionate about giving to these kids, which I confess was a bit of a shock to our cynical selves at the time. There were no telemarketing fundraiser types to be seen, and we felt a genuine sense that God was doing something. An enthusiastic gentleman showed the boys around and let them gape at the piles of boxes ready to be shipped to South America. The gracious woman who volunteered at the make-shift front desk offered to pray with us that the box would get to the right child and bless the family who received it.

Keep in mind, this was the first time my family had prayed together in a way that was not just part of a cultural pre-meal routine, or obligatory bowing of heads when prompted by others. We didn’t know it at the time, but before that winter was over we would find our hearts opened again. We landed in a new church home fully aware of God’s blessing…and it all started with a simple shoebox.

 


 

The Church at Severn Run has begun collecting OCC Shoeboxes for 2016! Contact the church for more information.

Posted by Katey Pearson with

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