ANCHORAGE - Ten-thousand shoe boxes stuffed with everything from small toys to toothbrushes are being sent to orphans in the Russia Far East.
The items have been collected over the last month for Operation Christmas Child with items donated by the Scouts, home schoolers, seniors, Rotary Club members, churchgoers, public and private school students, and other groups statewide.
About 200 volunteers worked assembly-line style for a few days earlier this month in a hangar in South Anchorage to assemble the Christmas boxes.
Candy was crammed into every extra space.
"Lots and lots of candy - as much as you can get in the box," said Mary-Jane Mills, field representative for Samaritan's Purse in Alaska.
The shoebox drive is one of several projects sponsored by the group, an international Christian relief organization headed by Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham.
Last year, Alaska shipped 7,700 boxes. This year, the number is up to 10,213 boxes.
"They go to orphans who have never received a Christmas present. They go to street children who have nothing - nothing," Mills said.