With the holidays right around the corner, individuals, families, churches and groups are working to make Christmas a little bit brighter for needy children overseas.
The National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child will be held Nov. 18 through 25 in the Johnstown area.
Operation Christmas Child is a project of the international Christian relief and evangelism organization Samaritan’s Purse that turns an empty shoebox into a Christmas box of gifts for underprivileged children on six continents.
Shoeboxes can be packed with school supplies, toys, hygiene items and notes of encouragement.
This year’s goal for Johnstown is to collect 4,400 gift-filled boxes.
Step-by-step shoebox packing instructions are available online at www.samaritanspurse.org.
Once completed, volunteers can drop off their shoebox gifts at either of two locations in the area.
This year’s collection sites are Belmont United Methodist Church, 107 Coldren St., Johnstown, and Garman Church of God, 1935 Moss Creek Road, Northern Cambria.
Operating hours at Belmont United Methodist are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday and Tuesday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday through Nov. 23; 2 to 4 p.m. Nov. 24; and 8:30 to 10 a.m. Nov. 25.
Operating hours at Garman Church of God are 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Thursday; 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 22; 9 a.m. to noon Nov. 23; 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 24; and 9 to 10:30 a.m. Nov. 25.
Once the boxes are sent out, tracking technology will allow donors to follow their box to the destination country, where it will be delivered to a child.
To register, use the Follow Your Box donation form at www.samaritans
Teresa Morrison, along with her husband, Jim, are serving as area coordinators for this year’s project.
“This is a project where any one of any age can get involved and it’s neat to see families come together to work on the packing,” said the resident of Brookville, Jefferson County.
“It’s also an unique opportunity to spread the gospel to children and families around the world.”
Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has delivered more than 100 million gifts to children in over 130 countries.
For more information, call (410) 772-7360.
Kelly Urban is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/KellyUrban25.