By Katherine Gittman
The annual clean sweep yard sale in Bowling Green has allowed many to participate in a community-wide event where they get to sell some of their old items, but for one local church, the clean sweep serves as a fundraiser for Operation Christmas Child. Since 2003, Calvary Baptist Church has participated in Operation Christmas Child and within the church, the proceeds from the yard sales have been used to help cover the shipping of the shoeboxes.
Operation Christmas Child is a mission under the organization Samaritan’s Purse, which is a part of International Christian Relief Ministry. With Calvary, they collect a variety of items throughout the year for boys and girls from the ages to 2 to 14 years old. The items can range to many different types such as stuffed animals, hygiene, toys and school supplies. Once September hits, the church has a packaging party where they divide up the items and place them into shoeboxes based on the gender and age of a child.
Once all of the shoeboxes are put together, Calvary then has collections week the week before Thanksgiving and prepares to send the boxes to the collections center in Fredericksburg. They rent a U-Haul truck and take them to the Fairview River Club which serves as the collections center for Operation Christmas Child.
From the collections center in Fredericksburg, the boxes will then be sent to the processing center in Baltimore, Maryland. The boxes will then be sent to third world countries across the world and to different poverty areas across the United States. Many of the boxes go to war orphans or children of refugees.
When it comes to making the boxes, people can pick any age category of their choosing. For those who choose to participate, it is encouraged that people who participate don’t spend too much money on one box. “The object is to reach as many children as you can reach. They would say if you have $30 to spend don’t spend it all on one show box. Divide it up and make several shoeboxes,” says Dolores Griffith, an organizer for Operation Christmas Child at Calvary.
This year, Calvary hopes to package around 2,000 shoeboxes. “We usually have a big packing party here at our church in September and last year we packed about a thousand shoeboxes,” says Griffith.
Besides the clean sweep in June, Calvary also has another yard sale in the church during the Harvest Festival in the fall to help raise money for the processing and shipping fees. Along with the yard sales in the summer and fall, Calvary also hosts a dessert auction to help raise money for Operation Christmas Child.