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Volunteers work to collect 900 gifts for needy kids this Christmas

While many Pagosa Springs families are busy with holiday activities, a group of local volunteers is focused on filling empty shoe boxes with school supplies, toys, hygiene items and notes of encouragement for needy kids overseas.

Southwest families are participating in the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind—Operation Christmas Child—an effort that has hand-delivered 86 million gifts to kids worldwide since 1993. Boxes from Colorado will primarily be delivered to Haiti and Mexico.

 This year-round project of Samaritan’s Purse is coming to its peak, as volunteers prepare to collect gift-filled shoe boxes during National Collection Week, Nov. 14-21.

Participants can drop off their shoe box gifts at CrossRoad Christian Fellowship, which is bustling with activity to help kids in 100 countries know they are loved and not forgotten.

 The center is at  CrossRoad Christian Fellowship, 1044 Park Ave., next to the Pagosa Lakes Recreation Center.

Hours are: Monday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.; Tuesday, 1- 3 p.m.; Wednesday, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.; Thursday, 1- 3 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m.

 Operation Christmas Child, a project of international Christian relief and evangelism organization Samaritan’s Purse, uses whatever means necessary to reach suffering children around the world with these gifts of hope, including sea containers, trucks, trains, airplanes, boats, camels and dog sleds.  Tracking technology also allows donors to “follow” their box to the destination country, where it will be hand-delivered to a child in need.  To register shoe box gifts and find out the destination country, use the Follow Your Box donation form found at www.samaritanspurse.org/occ.

 What can you do?

Prepare — Enlist families, churches, scout troops, community groups and businesses to take part in creating shoe box gifts for needy children worldwide.

Pack — Fill shoe boxes with school supplies, toys, necessity items and a letter of encouragement.  Step-by-step shoe box packing instructions are available at local churches, Alco or at www.samaritanspurse.org/occ.

Bring your child to the free shoe box packing party on Saturday, Nov. 19, at the Collection Center. The event will be from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. You can drop by anytime during those hours to fill a shoe box for a needy child.

Process — Sign up to join Operation Christmas Child volunteers at the Collection Center in Pagosa Springs as part of the effort to prepare millions of shoe box gifts for delivery to underprivileged kids on six continents.

 For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, call Nancy at 731-5901 or visit www.samaritanspurse.org/occ. National Collection Week for gift-filled shoe boxes is Nov. 14-21; however, shoe box gifts are collected all year at the Samaritan’s Purse headquarters in Boone, N.C.

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