Kids and families are in a giving mood, joining a project aims to help make a huge difference in the lives of more than 8 million needy children this year who are suffering from natural disaster, war, terrorism, disease, poverty and famine. It all starts with a shoe box-a simple gift that has the power to bring hope to struggling children around the world by letting them know they are loved and not forgotten.
Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has hand-delivered shoe box gifts to more than 77 million hurting children in more than 130 countries. Staff and volunteers use whatever means necessary - ships, trucks, buses, trains, airplanes, boats, camels, even dog sleds - to reach children. A kids-helping-kids project of international Christian relief and evangelism organization Samaritan's Purse, headed by Franklin Graham, Operation Christmas Child hand-delivers shoe boxes packed with school supplies, toys, necessity items and often a hand-written note of encouragement.
"We have such a good time shopping for things to put into those shoe boxes," said Juneau resident Justine Emerson, who has made Operation Christmas Child a family tradition. "My kids get so excited picturing the looks on the children's faces when they open their gifts."
Samaritan's Purse uses tracking technology that allows donors to "follow your box" to the destination country where it will be hand-delivered to a child in need. To register shoe box gifts and find out their destination country, use the EZ Give donation form found at www.samaritanspurse.org.
For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, call (253) 572-1155 or visit www.samaritanspurse.org. National Collection Week for gift-filled shoe boxes is Nov. 15-22; however, shoe box gifts are collected all year at the Samaritan's Purse headquarters in Boone, N.C.