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Polk helps children through Operation Christmas Child

Local volunteers are collecting simple shoe box gifts personally packed by children, families, and individuals here in Polk County. From here, the shoe box gifts will be sorted and sent using whatever means necessary sea containers, trucks, buses, trains, airplanes, helicopters, boats, camels, even dog sleds to suffering children around the world.
Groups and individuals in Polk County who wish to participate in Operation Christmas Child should take their gift-filled shoe boxes to the Operation Christmas Child Columbus Relay Center located at Polk Baptist Association, 208 Blanton Street in Columbus. The Relay Center will be open from November 16 until November 23. Its hours of operation will be Mon., Wed. and Fri. from 9 a.m. to noon; Tue. and Thu. from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Sat. from 9 to 11 a.m., Sunday 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. and Mon. November 23 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Relay stations have been established in Columbus, Pisgah Forest, Lake Lure and Rutherfordton.
Operation Christmas Child encourages children, families, churches and groups to fill their empty shoe boxes with toys, school supplies, hygiene items, photos and personal letters. The organization then hand-delivers them to children worldwide suffering from poverty, war, disease, natural disaster and terrorism. For step-by-step shoe box packing instructions, visit www.samaritanspurse.org.
Last year the total number of shoe boxes collected at the Hendersonville Collection Center was 13,642, said Dave Stewart, volunteer collection site coordinator. That total includes boxes brought here by residents of Henderson County and from the relay stations that serve this area. Our goal for 2009 is 15,000 boxes.
Worldwide, more than 8 million suffering children in more than 90 countries on six continents will receive personal, gift-filled shoe boxes at Christmastime and, for many of them, their box will be the first gift they ever received. Packed with love and sent with prayer, Operation Christmas Child shoe box gifts have brightened the lives of more than 69 million children in 145 countries since 1993.
Everyone is excited to be involved with Operation Christmas Child, Stewart said. We are particularly pleased to see the children of our communities reaching out to other kids through this program. We pray that this year there will be even more people involved because, not only do these gifts bring smiles to the faces of children, they are a real message of love and hope.
Operation Christmas Child is the worlds largest international childrens Christmas project. Gift-filled shoe boxes have been a source of hope and joy to children suffering from some of lifes hardest circumstancesexamples include children in the Republic of Georgia, those suffering from the effects of the massive earthquake in China, those living among civil war in the Darfur region of western Sudan, children who survived the terrorist attack in Beslan, Russia, those recovering from war in Kosovo and Bosnia, and children whose lives were changed forever by the tsunami in India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritans Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism ministry headed by Franklin Graham. To volunteer to help at the Collection Center or at a Relay Station or more information, call 1-800-597-6910. For more information about Operation Christmas Child, or to receive free materials, call 1-800-353-5949 or visit www.samaritanspurse.org.
Shoe box collection site:
Mon., Nov. 16 to Mon., Nov. 23

Columbus Relay Center

Polk Baptist Association; 208 Blanton Street

Mon., Wed., Fri. 9 a.m. to noon; Tue., Thur. 5 to 8 p.m.; Sat. 9 to 11 a.m.; Sun. 12:30 to 2 p.m.; Mon., Nov. 23 9 to 11 a.m.