$1,000 raised for Operation Christmas Child

Cordova bake sale proceeds fill 50-plus gift boxes for children in need

One thousand dollars earned at a Cordova bake sale will bring Christmas to more than four dozen girls and boys in need, far from the shores of Alaska.

It happened in mid-November, when a dedicated group of Cordova children and adults put together the fundraiser as part in Operation Christmas Child, a non-profit endeavor to provide holiday gifts and necessities to those in need around the world, through the international relief agency Samaritan’s Purse.

Operation Christmas Child’s mission is to provide children in need worldwide with shoeboxes filled with small toys, hygiene items and school supplies.

Nicole Nothstine, one of the dedicated volunteers, is a leader with Caravans, a youth scouting program with The Church of the Nazarene.

“This year Cordova had at least 50 boxes packed by volunteers from The Church of the Nazarene, St. George’s Episcopal Church and The Cordova Community Baptist Church,” Nothstine said.

“This is the second year that our Caravan group has held a bake sale in front of Northern Delights on Main Street. Community members bought our baked goods, donated funds and were happy to hear the kids talk about the Operation Christmas Child ministry. Many people thanked our Caravan kids for their involvement. The kids were excited and encouraged,” she said.

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Following the bake sale, 20 Caravan kids went shopping to fill the Christmas shoeboxes.

“This is the second year I have been involved in Operation Christmas Child,” Nothstine said.  “I’ve been familiar with Samaritan’s Purse and OCC for many years, but it was only after being involved in Caravans, a youth scouting program through The Church of the Nazarene, that I realized Operation Christmas Child is something we need to be a part of.”

Operation Christmas Child is not new to Cordova. Community members and many local churches have been involved with OCC in the past.

“I know of one mother, Tia Vican, that has been packing a few boxes with her children for years. Aino Roemhildt has packed many boxes with her Sunday school classes during her 30-plus years of serving at the Cordova Church of the Nazarene,” said Nothstine.

The gift packages are shipped to children on Native American reservations and to children in foreign lands hard hit by poverty, war, natural disasters, famine or disease.

Local pastors and church leaders in the receiving countries distribute the boxes to children in their communities by Christmas.

Cordova’s volunteers are part of an international effort, Nothstine noted.

“People of all ages pack shoeboxes each year to bless children all over the world. Churches around the country collect boxes from community members and even serve as drop-off locations during collection week. Thousands of volunteers inspect the boxes and prepare them for shipment. Every hour workers stop to pray for the children receiving the boxes. Ministry partners in the receiving countries are prepared to distribute each box, and share the gospel and disciple the children,” she said.

Nothstine said that she received an email last January, letting her know that half of the 21 boxes sent out from Cordova were delivered to children in the Philippines and the other half went to a restricted access area, usually a war-torn area of the world where it’s difficult and often dangerous for boxes to be distributed.

“A family member of a child in the Philippines contacted me via Facebook with a beautiful thank you for sending an OCC box to her nephew. This child, a three-year-old boy living in the Philippines, was so happy to receive his box from my son, Vincent. The family thanked Vincent many times in the message and wrote that they pray every day for Vincent, and all the Filipinos living in Alaska. As Vincent and I read this message together, our eyes filled with tears and our hearts overflowed with joy,” Nothstine said.

“Being a part of something that touches the lives of others, especially children, has left us transformed,” she said. “Once involved in this ministry, you soon realized the depth of the OCC slogan: What goes into the box is fun, what comes out is eternal. You’ll continue to pack a box year after year,” she said.

For more information about Operation Christmas Child visit the Samaritan’s Purse website at 

www.samaritanspurse.org

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