A wide smile stretches across Nelson Martin's face when someone mentions Operation Christmas Child. "It's such a wonderful thing. It just warms your heart to hear the stories that have come from these boxes," Martin said as he sat surrounded by tables of items to be packed neatly into special red and green shoeboxes called "GO" boxes. "That stands for God's Opportunity."
For Martin and his wife, Joyce, fall is a busy time for accepting donations and raising money to purchase all the items needed to fill hundreds of shoeboxes for children in need around the world. Last year over 50 area churches contributed to the over 6,500 boxes that were packed and shipped from the Free Methodist Church located on Troy Road. The church is just one of several drop-off locations across the state.
"We have churches from Sullivan, Martin, Knox, Daviess, Greene and Monroe counties all bring their boxes here and others donate items as well," said Martin. Each standard-sized shoebox is filled with school supplies, hard candies, small toys, small bars of soap, brushes and combs, undergarments, socks and more. "There are boxes packed for boys and girls. And those are divided up into three age groups. We do boxes for boys and girls ages 2 to 4, 5 to 9 and 10 to 14. What we put in depends on the age of the child," said Martin.
For instance, smaller children may get coloring books and crayons while a child in the 10 to 14 age group may get a flashlight and a calculator in addition to the hard candies, hygiene items and other toys. Boxes may also contain a special letter from its sender. Each box costs $7 to ship to its final destination. Those who choose to pay for the shipping costs online can track where their box is going.