Area residents have an opportunity to help others by donating colorfully wrapped shoebox gifts, which will be sent to children around the world — many of whom have never received a gift before and have very little to call their own.

This week is Operation Christmas Child’s National Collection Week, when local residents will collect shoebox gifts filled with fun toys, school supplies and hygiene items.

The Samaritan’s Purse project will deliver the gifts to children affected by war, disease, disaster, poverty and famine.

The East Oklahoma City Area Team volunteers have a goal of collecting more than 10,009 gifts during the week.

“It’s exciting to think of the impact our efforts will have in the life of each child who receives a shoebox,” said Regional Director Joe Christian. “We can’t wait to see how our community will respond this year to share God’s love with children across the globe.”

Shoebox gifts can be dropped off at Morris Memorial Baptist Church in Latta, 16121 County Road 3540.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. today through Friday, 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday and 9 a.m. to noon Monday.

Area residents are not alone in their effort to help children around the world. More than 150,000 volunteers including families, churches and other groups are joining forces to contribute to the largest Christmas project of its kind, according to Samaritan’s Purse.

In 2017, Operation Christmas Child hopes to collect enough shoebox gifts to reach 12 million children, with more than 10,000 coming from the East Oklahoma City Area Team.

For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child or to view gift suggestions, call (816) 622-8316 or visit samaritanspurse.org/occ.

Participants can donate $9 per shoebox gift online through “Follow Your Box” and receive a tracking label to discover its destination.

Those who prefer the convenience of online shopping can browse samaritanspurse.org/buildonline to select gifts matched to a child’s specific age and gender, then finish packing the virtual shoebox by adding a photo and a personal note of encouragement.

Samaritan’s Purse is an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham.

According to Samaritan’s Purse, the mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world and, together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 146 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 160 countries and territories.

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