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Operation Christmas Child surpasses goal

Because of the generosity of donors and volunteers, the South Central Virginia Area Team of Operation Christmas Child surpassed its goal of shoebox gifts, collecting 9,396 shoeboxes filled with school supplies, hygiene items and fun toys.

According to Mid-Atlantic South Regional Manager with Operation Christmas Child Abram McConnell, this season’s goal was 8,296 shoeboxes.

Last year, the South Central Team collected 7,826 shoeboxes.

Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham.

The South Central Team covers the counties of Buckingham, Prince Edward, Charlotte, Lunenburg and Nottoway, and according to South Central Coordinator Lorraine Smith, there were drop-off locations in Farmville, Keysville, Dillwyn, Blackstone, Chase City and La Crosse.

Heritage Baptist Church on Milnwood Road in Farmville served as this year’s central drop off location, according to the church pastor, Scott Curtis.

Since 1993 Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 168 million shoeboxes to children in over 160 countries and territories. For many of these children, the giftfilled shoebox is the first gift they have ever received.

Elena Nicholson is one of those children who received a shoebox gift when she was eight years old and living in an orphanage in the former Soviet Union.

Nicholson, who says she was raised in a physically and mentally broken home, became the primary caregiver at a very young age and that receiving a shoebox helped her at a low point in her life.

“It meant so much to me that someone would take the time to send me my very first gift,” said Nicholson. “I felt like a nobody, but the fact that somebody packed a shoebox reminded me that I am a somebody and that I am valuable to God.”

Nicholson continued to say how she didn’t open her box at first because she was afraid she would be disappointed.

“I was afraid that I would be disappointed with the inside, that it could never be as colorful and beautiful as the outside,” she said. “When I opened my shoebox, I was surprised by the glow of pink. Everything in my shoebox was pink. As it turns out, I love the color pink even to this day. I didn’t even know that about myself, but God already knew it was true about me because he was the one who created me.”

Though this year’s collection days are over, the South Central Area Team is looking for volunteers to work in various positions year-round, such as area coordinator, prayer support, media, student relations, community relations, church relations, administrative support and logistics.

To help volunteer with Operation Christmas Child, contact Lorraine Smith at (434) 315-3713.