603 gift boxes collected by Athol-Orange Baptist Church for children around the world

  • The Athol-Orange Baptist Church Shoe Box Ministry collected 603 boxes filled with gifts and practical items to be sent to needy children in 100 countries. Standing, ministry member Lisa Billiel, left, and Project Coordinator Angela Mason. Athol Daily News/Kathy Chaisson

  • Examples of shoe box gifts tailored to different age groups of boys and girls collected by the Athol-Orange Baptist Church Shoe Box Ministry as part of Operation Christmas Child. —Athol Daily News/Kathy Chaisson

Staff Writer
Published: 11/12/2019 9:50:22 PM
Modified: 11/12/2019 9:50:16 PM

ATHOL – For Angela Mason, helping less fortunate children who “have nothing” is not just an undertaking inspired by the holiday season. Every day, starting at 6:30 a.m., she works on shoe boxes that will be filled with gifts and practical items for children all over the world, in 100 different countries. “Either I’m wrapping or making knitted hats,” she said.

She’s also created small toys made out of thread spools and decorates the shoe box covers with Christmas cards.

The Athol-Orange Baptist Church Shoebox Ministry has been collecting and sending out shoe box gifts for 15 years as part of Operation Christmas Child, a project of North Carolina based Samaritan’s Purse. Mason said it used to be an end of the year project but it was decided to make it year ‘round. The mission and goal of the Shoebox Ministry is to help introduce children and their families to Jesus Christ, she said.

The Athol-Orange Baptist Church serves as a drop-off location for the shoe boxes for other area churches and donors.

On Nov. 17, the shoe boxes will be packed and ready to be delivered to Shrewsbury, on or around Nov. 24 by Pete’s Tire Barns, Inc. of Orange, where they will be shipped to Samaritan’s Purse for processing.

Mason said last year the Shoe Box Ministry filled 245 boxes and that she is thankful for the North New Salem Congregational Church members for helping fill this year’s boxes, and grateful to Pete’s Tire Barns, Inc. and those who donated items, money and space.

She said Mark Fantasia, Vice President of Workers Credit Union, liked the shoe box gift idea and has allowed two collection boxes to be placed at two branch locations: 107 Tower Rd. in Athol, and 32 New Athol Rd. in Orange.

Angela’s husband, Ron, helps out with inventory. Michael and Lisa Billiel help shop for the items to fill the shoe boxes. Michael said Walmart has been “amazing” by offering deep discounts for the project.

Athol High School and Ralph C. Mahar School athletic directors, Dan Bevis and Jim Woodward will each receive an anonymously donated award of appreciation during the Athol/Mahar Thanksgiving Game for pledging student athletes of each school to collect knit hats, toothbrushes, soap and washcloths, Mason said. The collection period will go through the school year.

Some of the “wish list” items for the shoe boxes include: wrapping paper, pencil sharpeners, balls, crayons, colored markers and pencils, flip flops, erasers, stuffed animals, cars and trucks, socks, contact paper, purses, soap, scissors, straws, pens, flashlights, tee-shirts, scarves, whistles, yarn, tops, pencils, sunglasses, coloring books, hair brushes, small puzzles, calculators, bendable toys, jump ropes, dolls, gloves, mittens, tissues, slippers and rulers. Mason said donated items must be new. No liquid, glass, food or toothpaste will be accepted.

Medium size shoeboxes are also needed and will be decorated in colorful holiday and children’s themes. Mason said she uses scraps and stickers from mailing labels to decorate the boxes which are designed for three different age groups, 2-4, 5-9, and 10-14. Every box is marked girl or boy with their age group with Christian material included.

Donations can also be made on Fellowship Sundays at the Athol-Orange Baptist Church on Walnut Street starting at 11:30 a.m.

For more information and a list of acceptable items to donate, visit www.samaritanspurse.org or call the Athol Orange Baptist Church at 978-249-8697.

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