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11-15-OpChristmasChildThis year, Artesia project coordinators of Operation Christmas Child hope to collect 950 shoebox gifts to deliver to children in need overseas.

First Baptist Church, located at 322 Grand Avenue, will be acting as a local distribution center. They will collect the shoeboxes – packed with toys, school supplies, personal hygiene items, as well as notes of encouragement – from donors around the area. Since 1993, more than 113 million boxes have been distributed in more than 130 countries.

“This is a really important project we’re working on,” said Ruth Bratcher, project volunteer. “Because of this, some children in foreign countries who have never had a Christmas present will be able to get one this year.”

National collection week is Nov.16–22. First Baptist Church is asking the public to consider picking up a box that week and returning the filled box before the Nov. 22 deadline. The church will be open from 1 – 3 p.m. each day that week to answer any questions about OCC and provide an informational packet on what to pack in the boxes.

Some suggestions on what to fill a shoebox with would be toys, stuffed animals, dolls, shoes, an outfit, crayons, coloring books, toothbrushes, bar soap, and craft items.

“Participation in this project can transform the lives of children and their families,” said Bratcher.

OCC is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. Using shipping tracking technology, whoever fills up a shoebox will be able to track exactly where in the world their gift is delivered using their website.

For more information on what and what not to fill the shoeboxes with, call 748-1308 or visit their website at samaritanspurse.org/occ.