KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – We may be months away from Christmas, but ’tis the season year-round for a group of giving hearts in Fentress County.
They’re making sure children a world away know the true meaning of Christmas.
There’s also a way you can help.
When you visit First Baptist Church in Jamestown, you’ll find several workrooms dedicated to Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child.
You’ll see toys made from bottle caps, brightly colored hair ties crafted with love, and plenty of school supplies.
All will be placed in a shoebox decorated for Christmas; each one to be shipped the week before Thanksgiving to a child in a remote part of the world.
It’s all part of Operation Christmas Child, a global organization well-supported on the upper Cumberland Plateau, thanks to Paula Sewell, who helped bring this program to First Baptist Church in Jamestown 18 years ago.
The effort has amassed quite a collection of donations – from bags of plush toys to small packages of marbles, items pack several storage rooms at the church, but they go out as quickly as they come in.
Support from the surrounding community growing over the years from 250 Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes the first year of the program to 20,000 last year from the five drop-off locations in the upper plateau area.
Sewell says, “I can’t believe these kids around the world…they don’t have the opportunity that we have.”
Help comes from volunteers of all ages and all types.
Wooden toy cars are made by inmates at the Bledsoe County prison.
Knitted caps are made by several women serving time there.
Volunteer Jim Cassin, recently retired from a long career, now helps make wooden crosses, “It fills a void time-wise. I’ve got a lot of energy still and it’s a great ministry.”
Volunteers of all ages have an important rolre in making sure a child so far away learns not only about Christmas, but the true meaning of it.
How you can help Operation Christmas Child
If you’d like to donate or volunteer with Operation Christmas Child in the Fentress County area:
Contact Paula Sewell at 931-267-9761 or First Baptist Church Jamestown at 931-879-8142 or Samaritan’s Purse at 1-828-262-1980
$15 will provide one Operation Christmas Child shoebox filled with gifts- the donation amount includes shipping.