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We will need one volunteer to stay at church between 10:00 and 11:00 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 20, in case anyone comes by to drop off their last minute shoebox.

The Samaritan's Purse website (www.samaritanpurse.org) has all of the information regarding how to pack a shoebox, shipping and tracking information. "For many of these children this is the first gift they've ever received in their lives".

The local spots are among the 5,000 drop-off locations across the United States for Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan's Purse of which Franklin Graham is president.

"The shoeboxes reach children in over 100 countries", Huerta said.

Throughout the eight counties that Parker-Moore serves, there are 11 drop-off locations.

An organization needs your help in making Christmas for children around the world a merry one. According to Samaritan's Purse, since 1993 Operation Christmas Child has crafted, collected and delivered more than 146 million shoeboxes to children from more than 160 countries and territories.

You can brighten up the holidays for a child in need by sending a Christmas gift.

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"They had never experienced receiving a gift before", he said. "Which makes me so sad because we all complain or get mad when we don't get the Christmas present that we wanted and these kids are getting a coloring book and they are thrilled".

Volunteers roamed between the piles of gifts, smiling gently as they shopped for a boy or girl, plucking out gifts for different ages and placing them in shoeboxes, bound for tiny hands around the world.

"I love to give gifts and see the look on someone's face when they receive it", she said. "And once you decide the gender and age you can go shopping". If you want to wrap it, cover the box and lid separately.

"I think it's so good for children to realize that we are so blessed and there are children out there who have nothing - have never had a toy before, never had a gift before", Klosterbuer said. "She talked about the stuffed animal, and most importantly, the letter that was written so a simple letter that was written to her completely changed her life".

Now through Monday, November 20 is the collection time for Operation Christmas Child, when local residents will collect shoebox gifts filled with toys, school supplies and hygiene items.

"Just no candy or toothpaste", Huerta said. "I heard one story where one little boy had a lot of school supplies in his box, and he just took out one pencil and handed the box back because he only needed one pencil, not realizing that all of it was for him".

"We call them the lemon cookie necklaces", said Charlene Phelps, who leads the shoebox ministry at Abingdon Baptist Church. The Red Wolves assisted First Baptist Church of Maggie Valley in filling shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.


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