Bibb Assoc. church makes Operation Christmas Child yearlong projectcomment (0)
December 22, 2011
By Julie Payne
With an average of 30 people in Sunday morning worship, Mount Moriah Baptist Church, West Blocton, may be considered a small church, but it’s making a big impact on children around the world.
Cynthia Cochran, wife of Pastor Shane Cochran, shared that the Bibb Baptist Association church has become increasingly involved in Operation Christmas Child (OCC) in the past three years. OCC, a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, offers joy and hope to hurting and needy children worldwide through its distribution of shoe boxes filled with toys and other items during the Christmas season.
Cochran became involved in the ministry through her home church, Rosedale Baptist, Tuscaloosa. Compelled by her passion for OCC, she desired to think of some ways Mount Moriah Baptist, which had never donated more than 12 shoe boxes a year, could increase its involvement.
“My home church … would take up one item each week and have the youth pack the shoe boxes,” she explained. “So I tried that with our church.”
Some Mount Moriah members bring gifts for the shoe boxes throughout the year, and others opt to donate money so that additional gifts can be purchased. The Sunday before OCC’s National Collection Week, the church hosts an afternoon “packing party” and all ages participate.
“We pair a child with an adult, and they go around and pack the shoe boxes,” Cochran said.
The children “just get so excited, knowing that [the boxes] go to some child who may not have a Christmas,” she added.
Shane Cochran led a special devotional and prayer during the shoe box-packing event this year.
As a result of Mount Moriah’s recent participation and dedication, its shoe boxes have multiplied exponentially.
“We went from 36 shoe boxes in 2009 to 95 in 2010,” Cynthia Cochran reported. This year, the church donated 106 shoe boxes to OCC.
Other Bibb Association churches also contributed to OCC this year. Brent Baptist Church was the leader in donations with 199 shoe boxes. In all, the association’s churches contributed 1,350 gift-filled shoe boxes.
After shoe boxes are donated, they are transported to a designated collection center.
There are 81 such centers in Alabama, and Baptist churches and associations house 55 of them.
Marcus Busenitz, OCC collections center coordinator for metro Birmingham, said Mountain Brook Community Church has served as a collection center for three years.
“We’ve seen decent growth every year,” he said.
One memorable moment for Busenitz, the singles and small group pastor of Mountain Brook Community, occurred when he noticed that a group of youth volunteers in the collection center had pulled aside a donor’s children to pray with them.
“They were all holding hands together and praying,” Busenitz said. “[Prayer] was something we tried to emphasize.”
He said it is very rewarding to think of the number of lives being affected by OCC’s efforts.
According to Joy Ugi, OCC media relations associate, the Atlanta Processing Center — where all shoe boxes from Alabama are routed after National Collection Week — received, processed and sent above and beyond its goal of 1 million shoe box gifts. “Alabamians definitely contributed to that,” she reported.
As for Cynthia Cochran, her participation in OCC is something she began a long time ago and plans to continue.
In fact, Mount Moriah is gearing up to restart its annual participation in January.
“We have a big … box (set up) in the vestibule at church,” Cynthia Cochran explained. “People bring their [gift donations] and set them down in it.”
She said the impact of an OCC shoe box gift can be far-reaching.
“A lot of times, it’s not just the children who get saved — it’s the whole family,” she said. “I would love for other churches to get involved in this … so more children can get the gifts and [in the process] learn the Word of God.”
For more information, visit www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/occ/.
Sample OCC schedule
Is your church looking to start a yearlong Operation Christmas Child (OCC) donation schedule? Here is an example of how Mount Moriah Baptist Church’s monthly schedule is set. Be sure to check OCC’s website for specifics on what gifts are recommended.
January — Toothbrushes and toothpaste
February — Small plush toys
March — Hats, gloves and scarves
April — Boys’ toys
May — Girls’ toys
June — Boys’ clothing items
July — Girls’ clothing items
August — School supplies
September — Soap and hygiene products
October — Hard candy (TAB)
Operation Christmas Child 2011 Statistics (at press time)
Alabama: 181,813 shoe boxes
United States: Expected to meet or exceed its goal of 5.8 million shoe boxes