Volunteers work to collect holiday gifts for needy kids

By Joy Ugi….

For many children, a shoebox gift from Operation Christmas Child is the first present they have ever received.

While many families are busy with planning holiday activities, a group of local volunteers is focused on filling empty shoeboxes with school supplies, toys, hygiene items and notes of encouragement for needy kids overseas.

Local families are participating in the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind — Operation Christmas Child — an effort that has hand-delivered 86 million gifts to kids worldwide since 1993.

This year-round project of Samaritan’s Purse is coming to its peak, as local businesses, churches and schools collect gift-filled shoeboxes during National Collection Week, now through Nov. 21. Volunteers can drop off their shoe box gifts at one of the locations in the area to help kids in 100 countries know they are loved and not forgotten.

Local collection sites include:

First Presbyterian Church, 301 Westward Dr. in Miami Springs; operating hours: Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m; Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m.

Old Cutler Presbyterian Church, 14401 Old Cutler Rd. in Palmetto Bay; operating hours: Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and 5-9 p.m., and Monday (Nov. 21) 7-10 a.m.

Riverside Baptist Church, 10775 SW 104 St. in Kendall; operating hours: Monday-Friday, 1-6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m.-noon; Monday (Nov. 21) not collecting

Operation Christmas Child, a project of international Christian relief and evangelism organization Samaritan’s Purse, uses whatever means necessary to reach suffering children around the world with the gifts of hope, including sea containers, trucks, trains, airplanes, boats, camels and dog sleds.

Tracking technology also allows donors to “follow” their box to the destination country where it will be hand-delivered to a child in need.

To register shoebox gifts and find out the destination country, use the Follow Your Box donation form found online at www.samaritanspurse.org/occ.

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