Bringing hope and joy to children in need around the world is what Bannertown Baptist Church has been doing the past 15 years through Operation Christmas Child.
This week’s fire, which saw the chuch’s old sanctuary destroyed, isn’t going to stop that.
The old sanctuary next to the church caught fire Sunday evening. Firefighters were able to stop the blaze from spreading to the main building, but the sanctuary was a total loss.
Still, Operation Christmas Child is a go for 2015.
Every year beginning in November Bannertown Baptist begins packing and filling shoeboxes full of toys, school supplies, hygiene items and simple gifts. Those shoeboxes are collected and sent to Charlotte where they are sorted for either a boy or girl.
After a quick check for any unapproved items, the boxes are designated to any one of 150 countries across the world.
The purpose? To be a part of changing children’s lives all over the world, through the power of a simple gift.
According to Sarah Simpson, organizer for Operation Christmas Child, the exchange has the power to change the life of the sender of the shoebox as well.
“I received a letter a few months after that really touched me,” said Simpson. The letter was from the recipient of one of the dozens of boxes Simpson had packed and filled. It was written by a 9-year-old girl named Esther Nyamburg Maina, who lives in Kenya.
In the letter she tells Simpson about her family and the day she received her shoebox, expressing how thankful she was to receive the gifts. Towards the end she asks for a picture of the Simpson family and to please write back, “It’s my pleasure to have you as my pal.”
While being part of the operation over the years has been rewarding, Simpson admitted this letter really struck a chord with her.
“In the letter she said she was saved, and that’s part of our mission. It means the world to me.”
Simpson and her husband Ronnie began collecting shoeboxes at Bannertown Baptist more than 15 years ago. Since then, they have grown to become the collection center for Surry County. Nearly 75 churches drop off their donations at the church.
Collections begin Monday and will last eight days at 1834 Westfield Road.
The collection times and dates are as follows:
Monday, Nov. 16-19 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 20 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 21 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 22 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Monday, Nov. 23 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Those wishing to donate shoebox items or an already filled box can contact the church office at 786-5407.
Reach Eva Queen at (336) 415-4739 or on Twitter @MtAiryNewsEva