Samaritan’s Purse adds warmth to chilly parade

Samaritan’s Purse adds warmth to chilly parade

Image Credit: Dave Mast

While the Berlin Main Street Merchants’ annual Christmas Parade and candlelight service took center stage the day after Thanksgiving, another opportunity to celebrate also took place that same evening.

In teaming up with Operation Christmas Child, a program that has grown to huge proportions in recent years in Holmes County, many of those who attended the parade and candlelight service also had a chance to learn more about OCC and the local efforts being made to lift up children all over the world.

The Samaritan’s Purse undertaking inspires individuals, families, churches and other groups to put together Christmas boxes to send overseas to give underprivileged children around the world toys, school supplies, clothes, hygiene products and items that are often taken for granted here.

On Friday, Nov. 26, representatives for OCC handed out hot chocolate and cookies while telling visitors how local efforts were shaping up in reaching out to children everywhere.

Volunteers were at United Dayspring Mennonite Church in Berlin, which serves as a hub for local people and church groups constructing boxes for OCC.

Paul Weaver, from Dayspring, said the church has been serving in this capacity for many years, and they enjoy the opportunity to share blessings with others through Operation Christmas Child.

“Everyone in the church pitches in to make cookies, and we have a couple of local businesses that donate for the hot chocolate, and we never seem to be short on volunteers or on people donating boxes because everyone understands where the boxes are going and the importance of each box in a child’s life,” Weaver said. “We really appreciate the support, and even though it’s really cold, we always have a good time here at the parade and enjoy sharing this wonderful message to others.”

Weaver said Operation Christmas Child has taken root in Holmes County, where numerous churches and many families and individuals take time to shop and assemble Christmas boxes.

Weaver said it isn’t uncommon to see families out shopping at local stores for gifts to place in the boxes. He said this year Dayspring sent out two semi-trucks loaded with crates of Christmas boxes.

“It’s been inspiring to see the community come together and make sure these children receive something special for Christmas,” Weaver said. “It’s a real blessing because I think people see what we have here and recognize that they can easily help children who have so little. This community is incredible when it comes to giving, and there’s something special about giving to children that we all cherish.”

In addition, they talked to people about local representatives who travel to Charlotte, North Carolina to help sift through boxes and get them ready to ship. They also unite with all of the other volunteers there to pray over the boxes.

“That’s something that everyone who comes back from making that trip says is an amazing experience that is just a huge blessing to them and everyone else involved,” Weaver said.

Weaver said the toys and gifts in each box are special, but he said the important thing is each box carries with it the message of the hope of faith in Christ that is at the center of the effort.

He said people give and create these incredible stories of joy and love that are shared around the globe, and the stories eventually are retold and reach the eyes and ears of those who gave to the project.

“When people hear these stories about how much these gifts mean to the kids, they are extremely heartwarming and make all of us want to give that much more,” Weaver said. “It’s neat to hear these stories about how kids have received these gifts and how it has blessed their lives, but it is also a blessing to everyone who helps make it happen.”

The simplest items packed in boxes mean the world to the children around the globe who receive them, and more importantly, the message of hope that accompanies the gifts makes it a Christmas to remember for the children.