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Volunteers in Artesia and the surrounding area collected enough gift-filled shoeboxes to reach more than 6,300 children in need through the Samaritan’s Purse project, Operation Christmas Child.

This record-breaking collection surpassed last year’s Artesia-area donations of 6,086 gifts. The Operation Christmas Child Southeast New Mexico Area Team is now thanking the Artesia community for their gift donations, which are already on their way to children worldwide. For many of these children, the shoebox gift delivered through this project will be the first gift they have ever received.

Although local collections have finished for the season, there is still time to pack a gift-filled shoebox online for children suffering from poverty, natural disaster, war, terror, disease and famine. Like online shopping, visitors can browse samaritanspurse.org/occ to select gifts matched to a child’s specific age and gender, then finish by uploading a photo and writing a note of encouragement to be included in the shoebox they build online. They can also follow their box to discover where in the world it will be delivered.

Participants can give a $25 gift card to a family member or friend so they can also join in the excitement of Operation Christmas Child by packing a shoebox online. These shoeboxes — filled with school supplies, toys, hygiene items, and notes of encouragement — are delivered to children in some of the hardest-to-reach countries in the world.

For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, call or visit samaritanspurse.org/occ.