Tifton--Starting today, the world's largest Christmas project will get underway. Through November 19th, many families, churches, and businesses across the U.S. will help more than eight million underprivileged children worldwide by filling empty shoe boxes with simple gifts.
The project is called Operation Christmas Child and already one south Georgia church is doing its part to gather enough boxes to impact the lives of thousands of children around the globe.
The project is in full swing at Northside Baptist Church in Tifton.
"It takes a lot of volunteers to get it done, and we're just thankful for all the ones that help us," says Leslie Troxell, a church volunteer. Troxell and others have been busy collecting shoeboxes. But not just any shoebox. It's what's inside the box that matters most.
"You take a simple shoebox pack it with gifts for children, and they take the gifts to children in war-torn areas, places where there's been famine, disease, to orphans, sick children," says Troxell.
"Inside the shoe boxes are all kinds of special things for kids. There's school supplies, crayons, and coloring books. There's hygiene items like soap and wash cloths. There's toothepaste," says Cathy Young, the project's area coordinator.
Young's church serves as the main collection site for Operation Christmas Child.
"We have a great reception from south Georgia," says Young.
Last year, the church sent more than 27,000 shoeboxes from southwest Georgia to children living in 100 countries.
"They've been from India to China to Russia. They go everywhere," says Young.
This year organizers hope to send even more. "We're shooting for 30,000 this year," says Troxell.
Because the more boxes they send, the brighter the holidays will be for children who otherwise wouldn't have one. "Just a little simple shoebox can bring so much joy," says Troxell.
If you would like to help the church reach their goal, you can contact them at 382-6855. Or you can log onto: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/ to find a collection site near you.
Operation Christmas Child is a project of the international Christian relief organization, Samaritan's Purse. The organization is currently headed by Reverend Franklin Graham.