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Holiday shoe box effort to help needy kids in progress

Published: Friday, Oct. 5, 2012 11:20 a.m. CST

Hundreds of Des Moines area kids, families and volunteers will come together to host a celebration kicking off the expected collection of more than 10 million gift-filled shoe boxes nationally for needy children in more than 100 countries through Operation Christmas Child.

Grace Church in Newton is one of several locations where donors can drop off shoe boxes packed with toys, school supplies and necessity items. This local collection point will serve as the shoe box’s first stop on a journey around the world to a child in need.

After the shoe box gifts are collected Nov. 12-19, they will be sent to be processed and prepared for hand-delivery to children worldwide.

This year, Valery Bianco — who received a shoe box gift while living in an orphanage in Russia when he was just 10 years old — will be the special “full-circle” guest speaker at Newton Christian School from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Bring the whole family to hear how Valery’s life was profoundly impacted by Christ’s love expressed through a shoe box gift.

Operation Christmas Child, a project of international Christian relief and evangelism organization Samaritan’s Purse, is the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind. This year, Operation Christmas Child expects to reach a milestone — collecting and delivering shoe boxes to more than 100 million children since the program began in 1993.

For more information, visit www.samaritanspurse.org/occ.