BRISTOL – Liberty Baptist Church in Bristol has helped to collect 1,500 shoeboxes full of toys and presents for less fortunate children overseas this year in conjunction with Samaritan’s Purse’s “Operation Christmas Child.
Kami Bauman, who is heading the collection at Liberty Baptist Church, said that the collection, which completed Monday and began, last Monday, exceeded their goals for this year, which was to collect 1,000 boxes of presents.
“We collected toys for children ages 2 to 14, many of whom live in remote areas and have never received a Christmas present before,” said Bauman. “The boxes contain toys and also things like toothbrushes, wash cloths, cups, hairbrushes and silverware. Some of these kids may not even have silverware of their own.”
Dustin Alley, pastor at Liberty Baptist Church, added that the boxes also contain a “message for hope found through Jesus in the Gospel.” He said that he was very pleased to see how people got behind the collection.
“It’s very encouraging to me that during the pandemic people could look outside themselves and provide something for others,” he said.
Bauman said that Liberty Baptist Church has also served as a drop-off point for other churches, organizations and individuals participating in Operation Christmas Child. In total, she said that almost 6,000 boxes had been dropped off by Monday. These will then be sent to Maryland before being shipped by plane and boat to children overseas.
“They start shipping out at the beginning of December through Mid-December,” she said. “People who participated can track their boxes to see what country they are going to. We had probably about 200 people making drop-offs and they came from all over the place, including Southington and Niantic. Our volunteers, who sorted them by age group, ranged from the pastor’s three-year-old daughter who was on the truck helping and some women in their 70s who assisted on the paperwork side. There was something for everyone to do.”
Bauman thanked Alley for being a great supporter of the collection.
“Anything I’ve needed he has been there to help with,” she said. “There are a lot of people in our church who have been great supporters.”
Samaritan’s Purse is run by President and CEO Franklin Graham, who is the son of Billy and Ruth Bell Graham. On the organization’s website, samaritanspurse.org, Bauman said that people can watch videos of children’s excitement when they open their presents.
“They are so overjoyed,” said Bauman. “Many of them have never received a present before in their lives. Some of these gifts go to small, remote villages where there is no road access. This is a great collection because it shows kids how to give to other kids.”
Alley added that, on the website, there are also testimonials from people who received the gift boxes as a child.
“Many of them have gotten out of the situations they were living in and are now living a life of Christ,” said Alley. “Last year our church watched a video of a guy who received a box as a child and now works for Samaritan’s Purse.”
Alley said that Liberty Baptist Church also collects donations for their local community.
“We are collecting donations and supplies for teachers at Edgewood School which we will give out the Monday or Tuesday before Christmas,” he said. “People can visit Liberty Baptist Church’s Facebook page for a list of supplies we’re looking for. It includes masks, gloves and chocolates.”
Alley said that Liberty Baptist Church has been a “hidden gem” in the community since it was founded 40 years ago. Now, he said, he is looking to change that by having the church get out to serve the community more.
For more information on Liberty Baptist Church, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 860-589-0000.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or email@example.com.