Christmas in July: Project puts joy in service

Published 3:00 am Saturday, July 21, 2012

Carl and Luke McInnish look over supplies packed for shipping.

The Wednesday services at Brewton’s First Presbyterian Church may have been a little out of the ordinary with music and decorations taken from a winter holiday season.
In an effort to create a joyful atmosphere, congregation members enjoyed Christmas music and decorations as a backdrop to an area set up to fill shoe boxes with goodies for children around the world.
Each year, area churches, including First Presbyterian, participate in Samaritans Purse’s Operation Christmas Child, where shoe boxes are filled with toys, socks and personal care items to be distributed to children in need.
One church member said the July packing party is a way the group gets a jump on the holiday season saying “things are always so busy around Christmas that we thought we would go ahead and take care of it now.”
Rebekah Neal, one of the organizers of the Wednesday night event, was able to travel to Cambodia to distribute the boxes last year. Neal said the Operation Christmas Child project is dear to her heart.
“We handed out all the boxes and didn’t have enough to go around,” Neal said of her distribution trip last year. “The more we can do here will mean more children can receive a box.”
Following a family-style meal, members of the congregation gathered in the packing area to enjoy fellowship and a time to pace the 200 boxes to be added to the annual collection in the Brewton area.
With many churches, civic groups, organizations and private citizens, similar boxes to those filled by First Presbyterian members, are collected at a central location for distribution through Samaratins Purse organizers.
Each year the collection of boxes are taken to Southern Pine Electrical Cooperative to be transported to regional areas to be shipped overseas.
To learn more about Samaritans Purse or how to volunteer or contribute to the annual Operation Christmas Child project, contact a member of First Presbyterian Church, Southern Pine Electric Cooperative or visit the national Website at

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