Years and years and years ago, we learned about a ministry of the international relief agency Samaritan's Purse called "Operation Christmas Child." (OCC) Its premise was simple: Donors pack age- and gender-appropriate toys, gifts, and other items into shoe boxes that are then shipped and delivered to children in developing nations around the world. We opted into the ministry, and for years found great satisfaction in knowing that the simple items we packaged in the boxes brought joy and a word about the Gospel to children we'd never meet, but would know we'd blessed.
In 2018, FCCEM morphed from a congregation of shoe box donors to a congregation of donors AND recipients! For the first time we served as an official OCC drop-off center for the Quad Cities, which meant that we welcomed, noted, and packaged in large cartons the boxes other persons, groups, and churches brought as their OCC gifts. By the end of the eight day national collection week, we received more than 1,000 shoe boxes. Praise God!
In 2019, our second year as a drop-off center produced nearly 1,600 boxes at our location, smashing our first year's success.
In 2020, the COVID pandemic limited our results, but didn't reduce our praise to God for the more than 1,200 boxes we processed at the FCCEM drop-off location.
We will serve as a drop-off center again in 2021, and we're looking forward to more great experiences.
For now, here are some images of our OCC ministry in action: