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Help Operation Christmas Child fill a few hearts

Parkway Baptist Church volunteer Diane Lazarus tapes together a cardboard box to pack up shoeboxes filled with toys and gifts for Operation Christmas Child.

For six years, a basement room at Parkway Baptist Church has been a vessel for people in the Miss-Lou to make a difference for disadvantaged children in foreign countries.

Through an international non-profit organization that was founded by Franklin Graham, Samaritan’s Purse, Parkway Baptist Church is a drop-off location for Operation Christmas Child.

Parkway volunteer Diane Lazarus said Operation Christmas Child sends standard sized shoeboxes and small plastic containers filled with small gifts to children in need.

“The boxes are shipped to countries all around the world,” Lazarus said. “And to children who may have not heard the word of Jesus.”

The church is accepting boxes for boys and girls for ages 2 to 4, 5 to 9 and 10 to 14.

Lazarus suggested the shoeboxes be filled with items such as crayons, pencils, erasers and small toys.

“We also have some boxes with bars of soap and wash cloths,” Lazarus said. “You have to remember these children may not have started school like us or have the things we have.”

More than 2,000 item-filled boxes donated from people throughout the Miss-Lou were shipped last year and volunteer Beverly Laurant said they went to Lebanon, Togo, Nambia and Madagascar.

“We don’t know where the boxes are going before they leave,” Laurant said. “But if you go through the website, you can track your boxes.”

Making a donation through the website, www.samaritanspurse.org., gets a special shoebox label with a barcode. Once the box reaches its destination, an e-mail will be sent with details about the country.

Lazarus said that, so far, more than 600 boxes had been collected in Natchez, and the group was hoping to have more than 2,000 by the time they ship out on Nov. 19. She said they get donations from all around the Miss-Lou and anyone is welcome to make a donation.

“The point is to get as many boxes packed to as many children as we can,” Lazarus said.

Laurant, who has been volunteering at Parkway Baptist since it became a drop-off location, said it was a blessing to participate with Operation Christmas Child.

She said from the first time she made a drop off of shoeboxes at a distribution center, she knew she wanted to be a part of it.

“I said to the Lord I wanted to work at one of these centers,” said Laurant, who is a member of the First Assembly of God on Liberty Road. “The next year, Parkway Baptist Church started (participating in the program).

“It was a prayer answered. For me, it’s the most rewarding time of year.”

Shoeboxes will be accepted from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday and 8 to 9 a.m. Monday, Nov. 19.

Lazarus said $7 will cover the shipping.

“We are also take monetary donations and anyone is welcome to volunteer,” Lazarus said.

For more information on Operation Christmas Child, call Parkway Baptist Church at 601-442-7434 or visit www.parkwaybaptistchurch.com.

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