Cassville residents are working on a project to brighten the lives of millions of children in need around the world. Volunteers are preparing to collect 800 gift-filled shoe boxes, Cassville's target contribution, to the world's largest project of its kind, Operation Christmas Child.
Volunteers are filling shoe boxes with gifts, candy, school supplies and personal hygiene items for children in need overseas.
Through Samaritan's Purse, this project, under the direction of Franklin Graham, is gearing up to collect shoe boxes through from Nov. 12 through Nov. 19.
First Baptist Church in Cassville is serving as a local collection site. Hours of operation are noon to 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 12 through Sunday, Nov. 18 and from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 19.
"We collected 760 shoe boxes last year," said event chairman Jackie Hendrix. "That was up by over 150 from the year before. This year, we have raised our goal to 800.
"People in the community have learned what we're doing and, despite the economy, have stepped in to support our mission."
This year, the organization expects to reach a milestone, collecting and delivering shoe boxes to more than 100 million children since the program's inception in 1993. Since then, the organization has collected over 94 million boxes and hand delivered them to children in need in more than 130 countries.
"You hear so many testimonies from the children," Hendrix said. "One little girl had prayed for shoes and when she got her shoe box, there were tennis shoes in it. She said then she knew God loved her because he sent her the shoes."
Through the power of a simple gift and the message of hope through this evangelistic outreach, children learn they are loved and not forgotten. For many of the children, this will be the first gift they have ever received.
Operation Christmas Child uses tracking technology to allow participants to follow their box to its destination country where it will be delivered to a child. Information on how to register gift boxes can be found at www.samaritanspurse.org under "follow your box."
For more information on Operation Christmas Child, call Hendrix at 847-2965 or visit www.samaritanspurse.org.
Silver Dollar City (SDC) is promoting Operation Christmas Child this year. They will give away Silver Dollar City Park tickets to churches within a 100 mile radius of SDC who pack more than 100 shoe boxes and who have signed up to take the Silver Dollar City Challenge. To sign up churches go to www.silverdollarcity.com/shoebox to register. Those taking the challenge will receive a confirmation email giving instructions to print off their confirmation email to bring to their shoe box drop off location during National Collection Week and give to the volunteer at the registration table.