Hoosiers Open Hearts To Donate To Needy Children

Operation Christmas Child Begins Collection Effort

Operation Christmas Child, an annual event that provides gifts for needy children in more than 100 countries, kicked off its national collection week Monday with a flurry of activity.

Hoosiers have traditionally been generous in helping the project, which involves shoeboxes stuffed with goodies shipped all over the world, 6News' Julie Pursley reported.

Special Section: Holidays 2010

A collection drive began Monday at Heritage Christian School and several other places.

People who want to donate can go online and print a label for a girl or boy, pick an age range, then pack the shoebox with whatever gifts a child might like, from stuffed animals to socks and soap.

Zaria Winston, 4, and her mother donated candy and toys to be sent overseas.

The project is run each year by Samaritan's Purse and its president Franklin Graham, who deliver the boxes full of gifts, clothing and hygiene supplies to orphans and children who are victims of war, disease and poverty.

"Operation Christmas Child has the goal of going out and finding children who have never opened a gift before," said Cheryl Baertschi, a volunteer. "They want to go out to the jungles and the hospitals and the orphanages for children in desperate situations."

Tens of thousands of shoeboxes are donated each year by Indiana residents.

"This is a way of taking the focus of us and all the toys and gifts that we will receive that we really don't need and just putting it on someone else who needs it," said Laura Winston, who donated a shoebox full of items.

The organization's goal for central Indiana is to donate 37,000 boxes this year. People who pay for shipping online can print off a label with a barcode. Samaritan's Purse sends an e-mail that explains where a package went and a link to get more information.

"Operation Christmas Child is a great project that shares God's love with people and shows these kids that someone really does care," said Natalie Boone, a student volunteer.

Packages are delivered through the year. Since 1993, volunteers have helped collect and deliver more than 77 million shoeboxes. The goal this year is to deliver eight million.

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