Christmas in a box: BL church works to send over 200 packages to needy children

By: 
Dennis Mansfield, Contributing Writer

Courtesy photo

During a recent service, Bryan Stirzinger, mission director at Bear Lake Christian Church, and his wife Angie, along with Pastor Scott Hoffer, show off the result of the church's mission project to collect items and fill holiday shoe boxes that will be shipped to needy children overseas as part of Operation Christian Child.

 

BEAR LAKE TWP. - The residents calling Bear Lake Township home may be relatively few in number, but those who are members of the Bear Lake Christian Church are again working to reach out and provide needy children around the globe with a box full of Christmas cheer.

“We had a mission project,” said Pat “Pops” Modos, a member of the church and township resident. “We sent 225 shoeboxes packed with religious, everyday products and toys for kids in needy countries.”

According to the church’s mission director, Bryan Stirzinger, the total was a new record for the local effort.

“We started with about 60 boxes our first year,” Stirzinger said. “Every year we’ve been doing better.

“We’re trying to do our part and do more and more.”

The mission project is actually part of a much larger effort, Operation Christmas Child organized by Samaritan’s Purse International Relief founded by the Rev. Franklin Graham, son of the well-know evangelist Rev. Billy Graham.

Stirzinger said church members start working on the Christmas shoeboxes as early as July, buying and collecting items that will later be used to fill the boxes. Some of the work is done after the church’s pancake breakfast held on the third Saturday of each month.

“Afterwards, we have a packing party,” he added.

Besides putting together the boxes, participants are also encouraged to donate $9 per box to help with shipping costs.

Stirzinger said participants who donate by going online at samaritanpurse.org may select whether a box goes to a boy or girl, or to a child belonging to one of three age groups. It also allows the individual to track where the donation goes to overseas.

“Last year, our gifts went over to Guinea on the coast of Africa,” he said. “It really works out.”

And, Bear Lake Christian Church isn’t the only local church to help in gathering the gift boxes through Operation Christmas Child. To his knowledge, other participating churches in the area include the People’s Church in Kalkaska and Kalkaska United Methodist Church, as well as churches in Mancelona and Traverse City.

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