By Mary Jane Daniels

Ellicott City, Md.—Bethel Baptist Church, Ellicott City, served its first year as the new location for the Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box Collection Center.

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(From left to right) Loading Coordinator Arvil Daniels, Larry Corum, and Jay Monk load shoeboxes.

Bethel had a ribbon cutting on November 14, attended by supporters and local government officials including Senator Gail Bates, (R-9), Delegate Bob Flanagan (R-9B), and Howard County Executive Alan Kittleman.

Bethel Church member Mary Jane (MJ) Daniels said when Tricia Warfield, area coordinator for Operation Christmas Child, approached her, to be the collection center coordinator and for Bethel Baptist to be the new collection center location she conferred with Senior Pastor Ken Cavey who enthusiastically embraced and approved the opportunity.

“We were blessed with great support from the church family, local scout groups, youth groups, families and others who wanted to be a part of this army of over 85 volunteers. They tirelessly did everything required and more during collection week, Nov. 14-21, and almost 9,000 shoeboxes were delivered to the center,” Daniels said.

As individuals, churches and relay center representatives came to deliver their boxes, Bethel volunteers greeted them warmly and invited them into the hospitality area where they were served refreshments. Kids got to watch a VeggieTales video explaining the shoebox journey.

Bethel volunteers filled seven cartons of filler items including dental kits, hygiene items, paper, pencils, toys, etc. which are added to shoe boxes as needed at the Processing Center in Odenton, where they are currently processing 900,000 shoe boxes collected from the Mid-Atlantic Region.

“A mom whose child attends a local elementary school heard about the shoebox project and got so excited about it that she talked it up at the last-minute and one class filled 46 shoe boxes! She and other parents came with several children who formed a line passing the shoeboxes from one to another until they reached the tables where the boxes were put in cartons and loaded on the trailers. We also had several people to bring shoeboxes and they were so impressed that they came back to volunteer,” said Daniels.

Bethel Church also received shoeboxes already in cartons from three relay centers: First Baptist, Savage, Md., Liberty Baptist, Lisbon, and Mount Pisgah A.M.E Church, Columbia.

“We so appreciated the volunteers who registered each person or church delivering shoe boxes, those who assembled cartons, packed the cartons, stacked the cartons five high (each up to 72 lbs.), those who helped with refreshments including Bethel Prime Timers and individuals who brought soup, snacks, and baked cookies.

“It’s a lot of work, but just think, each volunteer is helping to reach close to 9000 children in 151 countries throughout the world where these boxes will be distributed! They will know people from this area love them, sight unseen, but more importantly, they will learn that Jesus loves them and wants to be their Savior!” she said.

Daniels encourages churches, small groups to plan now to be a part of the Operation Christmas Child experience and volunteer at Bethel, Nov. 13-20, 2017.