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Belmont Baptist collecting items to make Christmas joy for kids

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By Alex Wimsatt

LEBANON JUNCTION – With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season fast approaching it’s easy to forget those living in extreme poverty throughout the developing world, but as Rev. Dondie Johnson pointed out; it’s the perfect time to show them you care.

An associate pastor at Belmont Baptist Church, Johnson serves at Bullitt County relay coordinator for Operation Christmas Child, an international faith-based initiative aimed at giving hope to the world’s poorest children.

This week, churches, community organizations and individuals around the community are gathering shoe box-size containers filled with school supplies, small toys, hygiene items and notes of encouragement to be sent to needy kids in more than 100 countries.

Johnson, who has volunteered with OCC for more than a decade, couldn’t stress the program’s sweeping impact enough.

While these boxes are modest gifts, Johnson said they have a major impact on the lives of the world’s most desperate children. 

“Most of these kids would never receive gifts like this if it weren’t for Operation Christmas Child.” he said. “They feel like no one cares about them and Operation Christmas Child shows them there are people who care. It doesn’t take a lot of money or a lot of effort to make a shoe box, but it makes such an impact.”

Johnson said the most important part of the program isn’t the gifts, however, it’s the hope these children find in faith.

For at least six years, Belmont Baptist Church in Lebanon Junction has served as Bullitt County’s drop-off location for OCC boxes.

Johnson said thousands of boxes will be collected at the site and he encourages everyone to participate.

“We as the nation need to reach out,” he said. “It makes a difference.”

OCC, an initiative of Samaritan’s Purse International Relief, is the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind. Since 1993, 86 million gifts have been hand delivered to kids worldwide.

From Lebanon Junction, boxes will be taken to Elizabethtown where they will be sent to North Caroline to be distributed overseas and hand delivered throughout the world.

Belmont Baptist Church will be accepting boxes until Sunday, Nov. 20. The relay site will be open Monday through Friday 4:30 until 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and Sunday 1 until 3 p.m.

Belmont Baptist is located at 345 Church St. in Lebanon Junction.

For questions or more information about what you can do to help Operation Christmas Child, call Dondie Johnson, at (502) 921-1630 or visit samaritanspurse.org.