-

Boxes will be filled with toys, school supplies and other items to be sent overseas as a part of Operation Christmas Child.

Operation Christmas Child sports volunteers throughout the U.S., including Emporia-Greensville. One of its top local advocates is Glenda Creath.

Church members and volunteers in Southside Virginia gather annually to pack shoebox-size packages. The boxes are stuffed with toys, school supplies and other small items to be distributed to children in need in more than 160 nations.

“I love this ministry because it gets the word of Jesus Christ out,” Creath said. “It gives kids an opportunity to find hope.”

Operation Christmas Child is part of the Samaritan’s Purse program founded in 1970 by Youth for Christ evangelist Bob Pierce. Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational Christian organization with a mission of providing physical and spiritual aid to victims of war, poverty and natural disasters.

In 1993 Operation Christmas Child was born. The program has not only thrived, but it also continues to grow.

Last year volunteers from Emporia-Greensville purchased supplies for the boxes, packed them, and sent them on two trucks to the Charlotte, North Carolina, processing center. The packages were checked then distributed. Peru, Dominican Republic, and Ukraine are three of the nine sites that received packages from Emporia-Greensville. Creath has been an Operation Christmas Child volunteer for several years. She took advantage of an opportunity to visit an elementary school in Ukraine to hand-deliver packages. Creath said it was an eye-opening experience.

“What we saw was hard to believe,” she said. “When I left the airport on the bus, the driver was running 55 or 60 miles per hour. I thought the bus was going to turn over. I haven’t fussed about a pothole in the road since.”

Creath is amazed by the reaction children show when receiving shoeboxes.

“If they get anything in a shoebox they can wear, they put it on,” she said. Sunglasses or whatever, it immediately goes on. They love school supplies because so many of these countries they cannot go to school unless they have their own school supplies. They are shared about Christ and told about Christ.”

Creath said the children did not have to do anything for the gifts. They see them as gifts of love, and that is a treasure in itself to them.

The shoebox packaging for this year’s Operation Christmas Child will begin sometime in November in churches throughout Sussex, Southampton and Greensville County.

For more information about Operation Christ Child, call the Southeastern Virginia Team (Greensville, Sussex, and Southampton Counties) coordinators David or Glenda Creath at 434-634-9721 or 434-594-5375.