Some organizations in the area are getting a jump start on the holiday season.

Beeville churches Kingsway and New Life are  collecting supplies and goodies for children in need through Samaritan’s Purse’s annual ministry Operation Christmas Child.

Participants transform empty shoeboxes into gifts of hope by filling them with fun toys as well as other things such as hygiene items. Operation Christmas Child will deliver the gift-filled shoeboxes to children in need around the world.

Jesse Berthold, pastor of New Life Church, which has sister churches in Central America, says that visiting Costa Rica and seeing the kids there not getting anything for Christmas is what prompted his involvement in Operation Christmas Child this year.

“People don’t realize that kids in those areas don’t really get hardly anything. They just don’t have the money,” he said.

Helping him to choose this ministry in particular was knowing the credibility of Samaritan’s Purse and the work Franklin Graham, president of the organization, is doing.

“I thought this was a way the whole church could get involved if they want to. We bought shoe boxes, but (individuals participating) have to buy a label (about $10), which provides tracking so you can see where the boxes go. The label cost helps pay for the box to get where it’s going.”

According to  Samaritan’s Purse, since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 186 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 160 countries and territories.

New Life is participating in the annual ministry within their church, due to pre-purchasing of the boxes to be filled, but anyone wanting to participate can contact Christina Segovia with Kingsway Church, the main hub for a multi-county area, at 361-542-1771.

“We have been a drop off location for five years,” says Segovia with  Kingsway. “We also have boxes available for those interested in participating and are in need of boxes.”

National Collection Week is Nov. 15-22. Drop off times for the boxes at Kingsway Church, located at 100 Jose Ramos Lane FM 351 are as follows:

Nov. 15: noon to 5 p.m.

Nov. 16: noon to 5 p.m.

Nov. 17: noon to 5 p.m.

Nov. 18: noon to 5 p.m.

Nov. 19: noon to 6 p.m.

Nov. 20: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Nov. 21: 2-5 p.m.

Nov. 22: 10 a.m. to noon.

Participants can also donate $9 per shoebox gift online through “Follow Your Box” and receive a tracking label to discover its destination. Those who prefer the convenience of online shopping can browse samaritanspurse.org/buildonline to select gifts matched to a child’s specific age and gender, then finish packing the virtual shoebox by adding a photo and personal note of encouragement. Boxes built online go to hard-to-reach countries.

“Here’s the bigger thing behind (the ministry),” said Berthold. “This is one of the greater tools that they have in taking the gospel into a family. It opens a door to them. So I spend $30 on a few boxes and maybe a whole family gets saved ... that’s what it’s all about.”

•lcampbell@mysoutex.com•

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