Items being collected locally for needy children overseas

Shoeboxes filled with small gifts are being collected in 29 locations throughout the Miami Valley and will be distributed to needy children throughout the world through Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse.

The international Christian relief and evangelism organization, headed by Franklin Graham, works in more than 100 countries to provide aid to victims of war, disease, disaster, poverty, famine and persecution. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has delivered gift-filled shoeboxes to more than 124 million children in more than 150 countries.

“For many of the children Operation Christmas Child touches, the gift-filled shoebox is the first gift they have ever received,” says Sandy Gargas, coordinator for the Dayton-area team. “In 2014, more than 10.4 million shoebox gifts were collected globally with approximately eight million of those boxes coming from the United States. In 2015, Operation Christmas Child hopes to collect enough shoebox gifts to reach another 11 million children.”

Gargas, who has been involved in the project for the past eight years, said her organization seeks to introduce the young recipients to Christianity. “The shoebox gifts bless the children and provide opportunities to share the true meaning of Christmas,” she said. “Through the simple act of filling a shoebox, someone in Dayton can make a tangible difference in the life of a child halfway around the world. Anyone can participate and bring joy to a child facing difficult circumstances.”

Here’s what they’d like you to do:

Pack an empty shoebox with the following types of items:

• Start with a “wow” item like a doll or a soccer ball.

• Then add other fun toys: a ball, jump rope or puzzle.

• Next add school supplies that can include pencils, pencil sharpeners, pens or small pads of paper.

• To finish the box, include hygiene items like toothbrushes, combs, soap and a wash cloth.

• You’re also welcome to add a note of encouragement to the child who receives your gift.

After the shoe-box gift is packed, take it to a drop-off location by Nov. 23. Among the Dayton locations are: Agape Bible Fellowship, 2560 N. Main St., Dayton; Church of the Carpenter, 5711 Shull Road, Huber Heights; Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 4865 Wilmington Pike, Kettering; Miami Shores Baptist Church, 4000 Vance Road, Moraine; The Gathering, 8911 Yankee St., Centerville and Wyoming Street CCCU Church, 366 Wyoming St., Dayton. To find the complete list of all 29 drop-off locations in the seven-county Dayton area, visit samaritanspurse.org/occ.

In addition to packing a box and dropping it off at one of the drop-off points, anyone can pack a personalized Operation Christmas Child shoe-box gift on the Samaritan’s Purse website. These gifts will go to children in some of the hardest-to-reach counties. Using special tracking technology, participants can follow their box to discover where in the world their gift is delivered by using the donation form found on the web site. Go to samaritanspurse.org/occ to select toys and gift items, write a note of encouragement and “pack” them in a shoe-box.

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