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Women at First Baptist Church pack boxes for Operation Christmas Child

| March 6, 2018

Mary Mansfield, Wilma Patterson (background), and Carolyn Hosfelt help pack boxes for Operation Christmas Child at the West Lafayette First Baptist Church.

WEST LAFAYETTE – Each Tuesday morning, volunteers at the West Lafayette First Baptist Church meet to fill shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, a program that is part of the Samaritan’s Purse, an organization founded by Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s son.

“We used to be lucky if we did 40 boxes a year,” said Mary Mansfield. “Now, our goal every year is 300 to 350.”

Each week, the congregation donates items for the boxes that are then sent overseas to children who are less fortunate and find joy in everyday items that we take for granted.

“These kids, when they get the boxes, one child isn’t allowed to open their box before someone else, so they put them on their heads,” said Mansfield. “They’re not allowed to open them and when they say ‘Go’, they can open them.”

The church has been packing boxes since 2003 when the kids’ ministry used to pack them. The boxes eventually changed hands throughout the years.

“There’s no way to express it,” said Mansfield. “It’s exciting that we can be a tiny part of this. People all over the world are filling boxes and we can do our part here.”

The boxes contain items made by the women at the church and can include bean bags, shorts, dresses, pencil cases, sewing kits, dolls, teddy bears, pincushions, scrunchies, small purses, headbands, necklaces, handbags, small blankets, and fishing kits.

Other items that have been purchased for the boxes include crayons, coloring books, pencils, pens, markers, scissors, children’s socks and t-shirts, soap, washcloths, toothbrushes, match box cars, yo-yos, small toy balls, marbles, small storybooks, and other items.

“We do it for the Lord,” said Belinda Burnheimer. “It’s just an outreach ministry and a way to serve Him.”

The gathering is more than just filling boxes for Operation Christmas Child. It’s about the fellowship among the women and making new friends.

“It’s good fellowship,” said Mansfield. “We have a variety of people who come. Some can’t come one week due to illness or other things, but we always get something done and have the coffee pot on.”

Anywhere between 10 to 20 items go into each shoebox, depending on the item’s size. After each box is filled, they travel to a pick-up center at the First Baptist Church in Newcomerstown where they then travel to Dover. Eventually, the boxes make their way to North Carolina where they’re shipped overseas.

Each volunteer has a job to do and does it gladly.

“I’ve been doing the doll bags,” said Wilma Patterson. “When I do them, I just pray the Lord will put them in the hands of a little girl who has never had a doll.”

Filling shoeboxes helps the volunteers feel like they are contributing to something much bigger than themselves.

“We like to contribute to something,” said Melony Evans, pastor’s wife. “Since we all can’t go on mission trips, this gives us the opportunity to participate in some way.”

In addition to items, each shoebox contains a pamphlet about Jesus Christ.

“It’s a good cause,” said Lori Wheeler. “It’s also teaching them about Jesus.”

The church accepts donations of any of the items that they purchase along with fabric, thread, pins (straight and safety), bias tape of any color, trims, zippers, sewing needles, metal washers, old jeans that have good back pockets, gently-used pillowcases, bath towels, and sheets both flannel and regular. Drop off items at the church, 688 E. Main St., West Lafayette, or call Mansfield at 740-545-7723.

“I just started a couple of weeks ago and I really like it,” said Paula Lint. “We’re contributing to people who don’t have much. God said for us to help the poor and that’s what we’re doing.”

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About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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