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It’s National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child!

Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes stacked

It's National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child! (2019)

Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes stacked
Photo Courtesy of Central Baptist Church, Winfield

If you’ve been filling shoeboxes full of toys, school supplies, and other goodies for Operation Christmas Child, good news — it’s National Collection Week! Now that you’ve finished making all the tough decisions (Cardboard or plastic shoebox? Baby doll or teddy bear? How do I squeeze these last few items in there?) you may be wondering where you’re supposed to take your box. Three Cowley County churches will be ready to collect your boxes this week.

In Ark City you can drop off shoeboxes at Mt. Zion Community Church. What started out 10 years ago as a youth group packing 10–15 boxes has been embraced by the entire church, and this year they packed 483 shoeboxes! This is Mt. Zion’s third year hosting a drop-off location.

“We look to support missions of varying levels. We support local as well as international ministries. We desire that everyone come to the realization that we all are broken in some way and that the only way to eternal life in heaven is through personal faith in Jesus. We support ministries that also want to spread the hope that Jesus offers, and Samaritan’s Purse OCC shoeboxes are a tangible way of doing this.” — Tamen Eis, Mt. Zion Community Church

In Udall your boxes can be delivered to New Life Chapel. Although church members have been packing shoeboxes on their own for years, this is the church’s 2nd year to volunteer their time and space for National Collection Week.

“The shoebox gifts are an incredible opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus to children in need. In the hands of the local churches, every gift filled shoebox is a tool for evangelism and discipleship, transforming the lives of children and their families around the world.” — Pastor Angie Exley, New Life Chapel

New to collections this year is Central Baptist Church in Winfield. For the last eight years, members at Central have collected shoebox items as a church and held a “packing party”. This year, after packing 505 shoeboxes, church members were reminded that these shoeboxes are not just about the trinkets and toys inside. These shoeboxes represent 505 opportunities for children around the world to learn about their Savior and ask Jesus into their hearts.

“We believe in reaching as many people as we can for Jesus and His Kingdom. This is an outstanding way to do it.” — Ed Shubert, Central Baptist Church

If you would like to participate in packing a shoebox you can learn more by visiting Samaritan’s Purse’s website or by watching the video below.

“You can be the very beginning of a gift filled shoebox journey by simply getting a shoebox and filling it with love! Your gift will bring the good news and great joy to a child in need. Some of which will be their first time ever receiving a gift.” — Pastor Angie Exley, New Life Chapel

Drop-off Locations and Times in Cowley County

Mount Zion Community Church 31948 31st Rd Arkansas City, KS 67005 — Mon, Nov. 18: 1:30 PM — 6:30 PM Tue, Nov. 19: 1:30 PM — 6:30 PM Wed, Nov. 20: 11:00 AM — 4:30 PM Thu, Nov. 21: 11:00 AM — 6:00 PM Fri, Nov. 22: 2:00 PM — 7:00 PM Sat, Nov. 23: 12:00 PM — 5:00 PM Sun, Nov. 24: 2:00 PM — 5:00 PM Mon, Nov. 25: 8:00 AM — 12:00 PM

New Life Chapel 2654 58th Drive Udall, KS 67146 — Mon, Nov. 18: 8:00 AM — 10:00 AM Tue, Nov. 19: 8:00 AM — 10:00 AM Wed, Nov. 20: 5:30 PM — 7:30 PM Thu, Nov. 21: 5:30 PM — 7:30 PM Fri, Nov. 22: 8:00 AM — 10:00 AM Sat, Nov. 23: 1:00 PM — 3:00 PM Sun, Nov. 24: 1:00 PM — 3:00 PM Mon, Nov. 25: 8:00 AM — 10:00 AM

Central Baptist Church 904 Wheat Rd Winfield, KS 67156 — Mon, Nov. 18: 4:00 PM — 6:00 PM Tue, Nov. 19: 4:00 PM — 6:00 PM Wed, Nov. 20: 4:00 PM — 6:00 PM Thu, Nov. 21: 4:00 PM — 6:00 PM Fri, Nov. 22: 4:00 PM — 6:00 PM Sat, Nov. 23: 10:00 AM — 12:00 PM Sun, Nov. 24: 3:00 PM — 5:00 PM Mon, Nov. 25: 10:00 AM — 12:00 PM

Family: The Greatest Marketing Firm

Family eating dinner in a small town diner

Family: The Greatest Marketing Firm

Family eating dinner in a small town diner

When it comes to marketing, there are so many options available it can be a little overwhelming. Do you put your money in pay-per-click ads? Social media posts? Billboards? Newspapers? Postcards?

Instead of hiring an influencer, why not turn to your greatest influencer of all — your family?

Hold on — stick with me. I’m not talking about hosting a Tupperware party or recruiting people to sell things for you. I’m really not even talking about marketing your own business. I’m talking about marketing your small town.

If you want people to know what makes your small town special, start with the people that are special to you. Is your town putting on a big event? Invite your family from out-of-town! In-laws dropping in unexpectedly? Take them to the mom-and-pop restaurant downtown! Spending the day shopping with your sister? Start with the local boutiques, artists, and craftsman!

Need some real-life examples?

While my in-laws were helping us move into our new house, we took them down the street and treated them to lunch from Ike’s Donut Shop in Arkansas City. My mother-in-law loved the Pickle-Os and brings them up anytime someone claims to have eaten better.

Like my kid’s shoes? I got a deal on them at Joseph’s Storehouse in Burden! My sister-in-law was so impressed she made up a shopping list for me to take on my next trip!

And why do I know about the jazz quartet from Winfield, known as the Student Loans? That would be because I heard my brother talk about them playing at Burden Dayz’s free concert.

Next time you drive across town, look around and make note of what it is you love about where you live. Those things, those places, those events, those are the ones you should be sharing when people come to visit. Too often we think that marketing is a tool you use, a person you hire, money you spend…but in reality, it’s learning to be a tour guide in your own backyard.

What’s your next destination?

Winfield’s Donut Tractor

Winfield Masonic Lodge selling donuts and coffee on a tractor and trailer

Winfield's Donut Tractor

It's About More Than Just The Donuts

Winfield Masonic Lodge selling donuts and coffee on a tractor and trailer
Photo Courtesy of Winfield Masonic Lodge #110

If you’ve camped at the fairgrounds during the Walnut Valley Festival you know the sound of the “Donut Tractor”. If you have kids, they’ve likely drug you out of bed with all the fervor of Christmas morning, for fear the tractor may go by before they get there. And it does feel a little bit like Christmas, only instead of Santa bringing presents, it’s the Winfield Masonic Lodge #110 selling donuts, coffee, orange juice, and milk.

The tractor serves as an alarm clock for many camping at the festival and an easy breakfast during their stay. It has become such a part of the camping experience that in 2018, songwriter Noah Musser wrote the song “Donut Tractor” which won him the category of “Songs About WVF” in the NewSong Showcase. For some it’s a first cup of coffee while their pot is brewing or a “snack” to satisfy younger campers until a more substantial breakfast can be cooked. For others (especially young tractor-loving campers or exhausted parents), they make sure they get a new donut or coffee refill every time the tractor passes by until their belly is full!

Beyond the coffee and donuts, campers enjoy sharing stories of family members who are involved in the Masons, expressing their gratitude for the services of the Shriner’s Hospital, or just admiring the antique tractors as they pass through the campgrounds.

As enjoyable as it is to mingle with the campers, selling donuts is serious business for the Masons. The “Donut Tractor” is one of the three main fundraising efforts for the Lodge, with the other two being concession stands held at the Cowley County Fair and the K&O Steam & Gas Engine Show. Money raised from these events allow the Masons to invest financially in the future of their communities. The Winfield Lodge #110 has used money they’ve raised to make donations to Eagles Nest, Blue Santa, ABATE Toy Run, Winfield Food Pantry, and Kansas Masonic Home. The Lodge also sponsors an annual scholarship for local High School Seniors and scholarships for the Kansas Masonic All-State High School Marching Band Camp.

If you are interested in becoming a Mason or have questions about their activities, they can be reached at (620) 221–0109.