Southeast Ohio Operation Christmas Child volunteers are already planning for the winter holiday season by collecting items to fill the thousands of shoe boxes millions worldwide that the organization distributes each year to needy children across the globe. Operation Christmas Child is a division of the larger organization Samaritans Purse and is the largest childrens Christmas project in the world. Last year, almost 8.2 million children received one of the now almost-iconic gift-filled shoe boxes that are distributed to kids in developing countries and nations torn by natural disasters, famine, war, disease and terrorism. In 2010, donations from the southeastern Ohio region contributed to 23,618 gift boxes for Operation Christmas Child. There are more than 2,900 collection locations across the U.S., of which six are in Scioto County. National collection week is Nov. 14-21. Church groups, student clubs, civic organizations and others are encouraged to fill and decorate their shoe boxes of gifts and deliver them to the drop points at that time. Guidelines for filling the boxes can be found online at www.samaritanspurse.org/occ. The items needed to fill each box are school supplies, hygiene items, small toys, hard candy and small stuffed animals. Included also is a note that says the children who receive the gift are loved and not forgotten. More than 140,000 volunteers participate in this project each year from the United States, Canada, Australia, Austria, Finland, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. This year, Operation Christmas Child anticipates it will reach as many as 8.5 million children.
HEATHER DUMAS may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 241, or firstname.lastname@example.org.