Kick Off For Operation Christmas Child Program Held September 13

Dr. Chris and Paula Sewell, Operation Christmas Child Program Coordinators are shown above with guest speaker Kateryna Lovell and key members of their local committee. From left to right: Ed Smith, Dr. Sewell, Kateryna Lovell, Paula Sewell, Mike Shaner and Kathy Shaner.

This year’s goal set at 15,000 Shoe Boxes

After reaching their goal for the past several years, including one of more than 14,000 shoe boxes for the Operation Christmas Child program last year, local program coordinators Dr. Chris and Paula Sewell are raising this year’s goal to 15,000 boxes.

As usual, the kickoff held on Tuesday, September 13 at the Jamestown First Baptist Church was very well attended, during which Paula Sewell commented on the program’s success over the years since it began in 2000, and how God used people like her and the other volunteers to reach children around the world.

Mrs. Sewell also spoke about how the success of the program here over the past few years had resulted in expansion of the project each year.

“It seems that I keep repeating myself every year, but it’s just incredible to see how our numbers have grown over the years.  We have to remember that each number and each shoebox we fill represents a child.  These are God’s children and they need a Savior.”

After exceeding their goal last year and filling 14,584 shoe boxes, this year’s goal has been increased to 15,000.

“As usual, I’m excited, Mrs. Sewell said.  My goal is 15,000 and my prayer goal is a little more than that. God always seems to take me above what I expect.”

One of this year’s special guests for the kickoff was Kateryna Lovell, formerly of Ukrane, who spoke of how she received a shoebox when he was a child and how it changed her life.

“When I was much younger, I don’t remember the exact age, I received my shoe box.  At that time I was in an orphanage, and the showbox was something very special to me.  We were just a bunch of kids and nobody had anything.  We didn’t get anything at Christmas or birthdays, so receiving a gift like this from America was something very exciting.  Everyone had big smiles on their faces, and it was the happiest day of our lives.  One of the most special things was getting the candy.  Everyone loved that. I also remember when I opened the box, it really smelled good and there was a bar of soap in the box that made it smell so good.  There was also a doll, a bracelet, a hat and some gloves, but one of the most special things in the box was the card that the family had signed.” she added.

Kateryna, now 19, was adopted and brought to the United States when she was 12 and is currently residing in Cookeville with an aunt and uncle.

“As a kid I was happy to receive the shoe box and was really grateful for it,” she said.  “But when I got here and saw them making the shoe boxes, I think it had more effect on me.  It was like ‘This is where all the magic is happening, and I just want to help in any way I can because I know how the kids feel when they receive a box.”

Mike Shaner, who, along with his wife Kathy have made the Operation Christmas Child project, their life’s work after retiring and moving here a few years ago, commented:  “We’re counting on the Lord to continue to give us the energy to do this.  It never stops.  We’re out there collecting wood, getting toys, and at yard sale time we’re looking for things to put into the shoe boxes. It’s a year-round project.

Read the rest of the story in this weeks Fentress Courier.