Volunteers form Lily Baptist Church get Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes ready to ship.

More than 200 festively decorated shoe boxes were piled up high in a drop-off center Monday, donations given to Operation Christmas Child. While more donations arrived, volunteers were busy processing the boxes and sealing them up tightly.

London’s Operation Child organizer Kathy Huff was happy.

“We’re just pleased with the turnout already,” she said.

The goal is to send more than 2,000 of the boxes, which are filled with gifts, school supplies, hygiene items and toys, to international relief organization Samaritan’s Purse. The shoe boxes will then be distributed to impoverished kids around the world.

This is the first year First Baptist Church has stepped in to establish a drop-off spot for the charity in London. Last year, 13,164 shoe boxes were collected in the Lake Cumberland area, 2,970 of which were from Whitley and Laurel counties.

The drop-off center is not at the church, but at Independent Opportunities on Monty Drive.

“Ernest Matt House donated the space,” organizer Sheri Yonts said.

On Monday, 141 of the boxes were brought in by members of Corinth Baptist Church.

“We just start two months early trying to pump ‘em up to give instructions,” Judy McWilliams said of her fellow church members. “I have encouraged them before about putting their picture and address in so they can receive letters, the way my husband and I have.”

McWilliams said she has a great experience helping the charity every year.

“I think Samaritan’s Purse and everything they do is an awesome organization,” she said. “Everything you donate goes straight to some needy area. I know Operation Christmas Child has saved children. They have given their heart to Jesus.”

Several other churches are also participating this year, along with local businesses and companies.

Yonts encouraged people to include special items like colorful toys, harmonicas, duct tape and twine. She underscored, if people want to give money in their boxes, they should not include cash. Checks can be made to Samaritan’s Purse.

Operation Christmas Child boxes can be dropped off today through Monday. The drop-off center will be open from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. today, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday.

The drop-off center is at Independent Opportunities at 70 Monty Drive. Turn left onto Commercial Drive from south U.S. 25. For more information, call Nancy at 878-9759 or Kathy at 864-2415.

Staff writer Tara Kaprowy can be reached by e-mail at

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