While some people in the United States are preparing for holiday activities, local volunteers with Operation Christmas Child - the world's largest Christmas project of its kind - are filling shoe box gifts with toys, school supplies and hygiene items for needy children overseas.
This year-round project of international Christian relief and evangelism organization Samaritan's Purse, headed by Franklin Graham, is ramping up as local businesses, churches and community groups prepare to collect 750 gift-filled shoe boxes during National Collection Week, which runs Monday through Nov. 19.
Anyone can drop off a packed shoe box at the Steubenville-area collection site. Then, using whatever means necessary - trucks, trains, boats, bikes and even elephants - the shoe box gifts will be hand-delivered to hurting children in 100 countries around the world, according to a press release.
There are two local collection sites. One is First Westminster Presbyterian Church, 235 N. Fourth St., Steubenville.
Collection dates and times are: Nov. 12-15, all four days from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Nov. 16 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.; Nov. 17 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.; Nov. 18 from noon to 2 p.m.; and Nov. 19 from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Jaclyn Walters is the collection site coordinator and can be reached by calling (740) 282-4591.
The other local collection site is at Brooke Hills Free Methodist Church located at 1340 Washington Pike, Wellsburg.
Collection dates and times there are: Nov. 12, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Nov. 13, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Nov. 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Nov. 15 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Nov. 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Nov. 17 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Nov. 18 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.; and Nov. 19 from 10 a.m. to noon.
Sharon Jackson is the collection site coordinator and can be contacted at (304) 737-0186.
Additional local collection sites can be found using the online zip code locator at the website www.samaritanspurse.org.
In 2012, Operation Christmas Child expects to reach a milestone - collecting and delivering shoe boxes to more than 100 million children since 1993. During that time, Operation Christmas Child has collected more than 94 million shoe box gifts and hand-delivered them to suffering children in more than 130 countries, according to the news release.
This year, Operation Christmas Child hopes to collect another 9 million gift-filled shoe boxes.
For information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, visit www.samaritanspurse.org/occ.
Although the National Collection Week for gift-filled shoe boxes is Nov. 12-19, shoe box gifts are collected all year at the Samaritan's Purse headquarters in Boone, N.C.