PENDERGRASS-It wasn't the typical Wednesday night church service for Center Grove Baptist Church as the congregation has already started preparing for Christmas.
Center Grove has participated in Operation Christmas Child since 1993. An outreach of Samaritan's purse, Operation Christmas Child sends shoe boxes filled with small toys and toiletry items to children ages two to 14 around the world.
According to Gloria McIntyre, the Women's Missionary Union Director at Center Grove, October isn't as early as she usually starts her Christmas preparations.
McIntyre said, "This is a little bit later than we would like to complete it, but we like to get the shoe boxes done now. It gets it out of the way so we can get ready for the next thing."
McIntyre encouraged box packers to think about the kids that would be receiving these gifts. McIntyre said, "God blessed me with four boys so I never got to buy for little girls but tonight I am getting to pack my box for a little girl and I think about the things she would like, like hair bows and pink socks."
Pastor Sam Bates says that McIntyre and his congregation have the right idea getting the jump on the holiday season.
Bates said, "It takes this kind of preparation to be ready to send these shoe boxes to the distribution center. We've seen the success of Operation Christmas Child and we've seen that the kids that receive these shoe boxes are so blessed by them and we want to be part of that."
According to Bates the church set a goal of packing and sending 75 shoe boxes this year. They must be sent to the Atlanta distribution center by November 14th .
Bates said, "By the look of what we have here tonight, we are in pretty good shape to reach that 75 box goal."