Aiken-area families help give to nine million needy kids - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Aiken-area families help give to nine million needy kids

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NORTH AUGUSTA, SC (WFXG) -

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, Aiken Area, families, businesses, schools and churches are putting their gratitude in action and celebrating their blessings by giving back. Through Operation Christmas Child, locals are joining tens of thousands of people across the U.S. to fill empty shoe boxes with toys, school supplies and necessity items for impoverished children around the world.

"It's especially gratifying to think that from our home in North Augusta my family can impact the life of a child thousands of miles away by simply filling a shoe box with gifts … it's so easy," said Lance Danko, a North Augusta resident who has volunteered with Operation Christmas Child since 2006. "For children living in extreme conditions, these boxes let them know that they are loved and not forgotten and that there is hope for their situation."

In 2012, Operation Christmas Child expects to reach a milestone—collecting and delivering shoe boxes to more than 100 million children since the project began in 1993. Aiken Area residents hope to contribute 11,000 shoe box gifts from their five-county region (Aiken, Allendale, Barnwell, Bamberg, and Edgefield), and  to this year's global collection goal of 9 million gift-filled shoe boxes in order to help surpass the 100 million milestone.

November 12-19, packed gifts will be dropped off at six collection sites in the Aiken area. Shoe box gifts can also be packed virtually using "Build a Box," an online giving tool. By visiting the project's website at www.samaritanspurse.org/occ, volunteers can select a child's age and gender, shop through an online selection of gifts, virtually "pack" an empty shoe box and finish it off by writing a note of encouragement. 

Once packed, the shoe boxes are processed, prepared and transported to suffering children in more than 100 countries using whatever means necessary—trains, airplanes, boats, elephants, bikes and even dog sleds—to get the shoe boxes into the hands of needy kids.

Operation Christmas Child, a project of international Christian relief and evangelism organization Samaritan's Purse, headed by Franklin Graham, is the world's largest Christmas project of its kind.  Through the power of a simple gift and the message of hope through Jesus Christ, children learn they are loved and not forgotten.  For many of these children, the shoe box gift will be the first gift they've ever received.

By using special tracking technology, participants can "follow" their shoe box and discover the country in which they gift will be hand-delivered to a child in need.  To register your shoe box gift, use the "Follow Your Box" form online. 

Anyone can participate in Operation Christmas Child. The time to pack a shoe box gift is now! For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, or to find the nearest drop-off site, call 803-649-5802 or visit www.samaritanspurse.org/occ.

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