While it may seem a little early to be thinking about Christmas presents, Thanksgiving is just a couple of weeks away and it will be full swing in the Christmas season at that point. But some Christmas presents need to be purchased now.
Each year thousands of children around the world get a shoebox filled with surprises from Operation Christmas Child donors. The boxes have everything from school supplies, to toys, to hygiene products and notes of encouragement in them, and they are provided by families, churches and groups around the world.
Locally, the shoebox ministry, which was initiated in 1993 by Samaritan’s Purse of Boone, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham, will have drop-off points set up Monday through Nov. 23 for those who wish to shop for and put together shoeboxes to be distributed to children in poverty overseas.
Of those thousands of shoeboxes, 137 will include prayer cloths hand-knitted by ladies in the Wednesday knitting group at the Yadkin Valley Senior Center in Jonesville.
Paula Anderson, a year-round volunteer for church relations for Operation Christmas Child, reached out to the knitting group, which typically knits prayer shawls for Mountain Valley Hospice and Palliative Care, to see if it would be interested in doing the small 4×4 or 5×5 squares.
“I saw information on Facebook that someone had done prayer squares, or prayer cloths, and so I reached out to them,” said Anderson. “They did 137 in just a few weeks, and they said they want to do more next year.”
The cloths provide something soft for the children receiving the boxes, who in many cases don’t have anything soft to comfort them. “Somebody’s prayer for them,” is the idea behind the cloths, Anderson said.
“I thought next year I might type up a note to go with it that they are being prayed for and loved,” she said.
Doris Johnson, who is a member of the knitting group, said each Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. about 15 people gather at the senior center and work on prayer shawls, and the prayer cloths were a good way for the ladies to use the pieces of yarn too small to work into shawls.
The prayer shawl group accepts donations of yarn or money which they use to purchase yarn as well. Johnson said after Christmas the group will work in making more prayer cloths in preparation for next year’s shoebox ministry.
Drop-off time and locations for those wishing to donate filled show boxes to Operation Christmas Child are:
• West Yadkin Baptist Church, 2929 U.S. 21, Hamptonville, Nov. 16-20 from 4 to 8 p.m., Nov. 21 from 10 a.m. to noon, Nov. 22 from 12:30 to 8 p.m. and Nov. 23 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
• Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church, 1432 U.S. 21, State Road, Nov. 16-22 from 1 to 6 p.m. and Nov. 23 from 11 a.m. to noon.
• Bannertown Baptist Church, 1834 Westfield Road, Mount Airy, Nov. 16-19 from 1 to 3 p.m., Nov. 20 from 1 to 5 p.m., Nov. 21 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Nov. 22 from 1 to 5 p.m. and Nov. 23 from 8 to 10 a.m.
• First Baptist Church, 204 S. Crutchfield St., Dobson, Nov. 16 and 17 from 8 a.m. to noon, Nov. 18 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Nov 19-21 from 8 a.m. to noon, Nov. 22 from 1 to 5 p.m. and Nov. 23 from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.