One such opportunity is less than two weeks away as the local Operation Christmas Child project prepares to collect thousands of colorful, carefully packed shoeboxes for those in need as part of what has become an annual ritual for many local residents.
First Baptist Church of Hohenwald will once again serve as drop-off location for the OCC, a project of international non-profit Samaritan’s Purse, that has helped deliver more than 157 million shoebox gifts over the last three decades. Each year, thousands of Americans pack shoeboxes with toys, school supplies, stuffed animals, hygiene items and other fun gifts to help make Christmas special for children in need around the globe.
For one local family, this year’s project will be extra special as Lewis County Middle School student Cole Spann is using an at-home 4-H project to help raise money for those less fortunate.
Cole, the son of First Baptist’s senior pastor Bert Spann, has spent the last year raising chickens and selling the eggs with a goal of packing shoeboxes to help provide Christmas gifts for 15 children overseas.
“I was looking for a way to help, and I started raising chickens,” Cole said. “When they started laying eggs, I decided to give the money to Operation Christmas Child.”
The profits from Cole’s business will help pay for the contents of the shoeboxes, shipping costs and the opportunity for each child to take part in The Greatest Journey, a 12-lesson discipleship course that helps teach children about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and provides them with their very own Bible.
Cole has even been lucky enough to receive a few extra donations once customers found out their purchases are going toward a good cause.
“Some of the people I sell eggs to think it’s a great idea, so sometimes, they’ll give me a little extra,” he added.
Cole’s mother, Amanda Spann, said she is proud that her son is already looking beyond himself to help others in need with his current brood of 21 hens.
“First off, it shows me that he has his priorities straight and that he is already looking for mission opportunities for how he can impact people for the Gospel,” she said.
However, Cole’s contribution is just part of the worldwide effort over the next few weeks that will hope to change the lives of children who may have never before received a Christmas gift.
More than 150,000 U.S. volunteers including families, churches and other groups are joining forces to contribute to the largest Christmas project of its kind. In 2018, Samaritan’s Purse hopes to collect enough Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts to reach 11 million children.
Shoebox gifts in Lewis County can be dropped off at First Baptist Church during National Collection Week November 12-19, 2018. Drop-off hours will take place from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9-11 a.m. on Saturday, 2-4 p.m. on Sunday and from 8 a.m.-noon on the final drop-off day, November 19.