Athol-Orange Baptist Church Shoebox Ministry to fill 2,000 boxes by year’s end

  • Lynn Buteau and Angie Mason, who is the coordinator for the Athol-Orange Baptist Church Shoebox Ministry, pack shoe boxes for distribution for children in need in 100 countries. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Lynn Buteau and Angie Mason, who is the coordinator for the Athol-Orange Baptist Church Shoebox Ministry, pack shoe boxes for distribution to children in need in 100 countries. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Ron Mason piles up over 1,000 shoe boxes at the Athol-Orange Baptist Church Shoebox Ministry in Athol. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 8/10/2020 3:43:39 PM

ATHOL — Three-hundred forty percent.

That’s roughly the increase the Athol-Orange Baptist Church is seeing from last year to this one in the number of shoe boxes that volunteers are filling with toys and practical items for children in 100 countries.

The church collected, decorated and filled 603 boxes last year and those involved say that number will hit 2,000 this year. The church collected 247 shoe boxes in 2018.

About two dozen volunteers met at church Monday to stuff more boxes and Project Coordinator Angela Mason said 1,655 had been completed this year by late morning.

“We’re serving God,” she said. “That’s what we’re doing.”

The Athol-Orange Baptist Church Shoebox Ministry is part of Operation Christmas Child, a project of North Carolina-based Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian charity under the leadership of evangelist Franklin Graham, the son of famous the Rev. Billy Graham. Mason said the project used to be held toward the end of the year but the church decided to make it a year-round affair.

“It’s been working out quite nicely,” she said.

One of the volunteers is Lynn Buteau, who said she has been involved for at least seven years. She retired from Workers Credit Union last year and moved with her husband to Arizona, though she has remained active in the project, even driving two hours from her summer home in York, Maine, to help fill boxes on Monday.

“Just because I moved, it didn’t affect my commitment to the … charity,” she said.

Buteau, 64, is not a member of the church but started volunteering with the project after reading a news article about it in the Athol Daily News about a decade ago.

“It just touched me. I said, ‘I have to get involved in this,’” she said. “I had no choice. It just spoke to me.”

Buteau, who grew up in Acton, said the boxes are filled with soap, wash cloths, socks and underwear as well as toys. She said they are sent to poverty-stricken areas in the United States and around the world. Buteau said she has handcrafted at least 5,000 dolls for the project, drawing inspiration from online.

Samaritan’s Purse began in 1993 when Franklin Graham was asked if he would be willing to fill shoe boxes with toys and basic necessities for the children in war-torn Bosnia. Shoe boxes have since been sent to more than 178 million children in more than 150 countries.

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.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.




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