CU to host worship service to begin annual Operation Christmas Child drive

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Hanna Hall

Campbellsville University

Campbellsville University students and the community will gather in Ransdell Chapel on Thursday, Sept. 25 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. to take part in a beginning Operation Christmas Child worship service.

The worship service will discuss the importance of OCC and the goals for this coming Christmas season. All are welcomed and encouraged to attend this free event.

Operation Christmas Child is the world's largest Christmas project of its kind. OCC uses gift-filled shoeboxes to demonstrate God's love in a tangible way to needy children around the world.

"OCC brings people together; classes, campus, and community for a common cause," Dr. G. Ted Taylor, director of FIRST CLASS, church outreach and parent relations and professor in the School of Theology, who serves as the Taylor County relay center coordinator, along with Dr. Marilyn Goodwin, assistant professor of early childhood education, and Sherry Bowen, secretary of the School of Theology.

Since 1993, the Samaritan's Purse project OCC has collected and delivered more than 113 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 130 countries. In 2014, OCC hopes to collect enough shoebox gifts to reach another 10 million children. Shoebox gifts are collected in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Finland, Germany, Japan, Spain and the United Kingdom.

CU began its involvement with the organization in 2005, through FIRST CLASS, a freshman program designed to introduce first-year students to campus and the Christian atmosphere of the university. The effort began with only 30 boxes in the initial year but has grown substantially since. Last year's freshmen added 418 gift filled shoeboxes through FIRST CLASS to the total 707 boxes that were collected campus wide.

As a community, Campbellsville brought in 6,006 boxes and is aiming to bring in at least 6,500 boxes for 2014. CU would also like to have more local churches involved.

Taylor said, "Last year we had 43 churches that participated, and this year I would love to see 50 churches involved in order to collect more boxes and further spread the gospel to the children."

Collection starts Nov. 17 through Nov. 24. CU will be collecting boxes in the Theater Arts Studio, formerly the Fisher Auto Parts building, located at 307 N. Court St. near CVS Pharmacy.

Boxes commonly range from $10 to $15, but any donations will are appreciated and accepted. Shoeboxes are typically filled with school supplies, toys, clothing, non-liquid hygiene products, hard candy and occasionally personal notes.

Those putting together a box will be able to choose whether the box goes to a box or girl, and also an age range, 2 to 4 years, 5 to 9 or 10 to 14.

Participants are encouraged to use a shoebox or plastic container to pack their gifts. OCC provides labels in which to mark the age and gender for which the box is intended.

There are some restrictions on gift and toy choices so it is important to go to www.samaritanspurse.org/occ to understand what is acceptable. A $7 donation is also asked for to help cover shipping and other project expenses.

OCC ensures that one child will only receive one box in their lifetime to ensure the gospel can reach as many children as possible. All boxes are personally delivered to each child. There is also a six-week curriculum piece that is included with each box.

After boxes are prepared, overseas shipment takes place at eight major processing centers across the United States - Atlanta, Boone, N.C., Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Minneapolis and Orange County, Calif.

Samaritan's Purse and its partners will deliver the gifts to children in more than 100 countries on six continents.

For more information about Operation Christmas Child activities in and around Taylor County, contact Sherry Bowen, secretary in the School of Theology, at (270) 789-5029 or slbowen@campbellsville.edu.