DES MOINES — With Thanksgiving right around the corner, central Iowa families, businesses, schools and churches are putting their gratitude in action and celebrating their blessings by giving back. Through Operation Christmas Child, Iowans are joining thousands across the U.S. to fill empty shoe boxes with toys, school supplies and necessity items for impoverished children around the world.
“It’s neat to think that from our home in Urbandale my family can impact the lives of children thousands of miles away by simply filling shoe boxes with gifts … it’s so easy,” said Urbandale resident Heather Rowley, who has volunteered with Operation Christmas Child since 1999. “For children living in extreme conditions, these boxes let them know that they are loved and not forgotten and that there is hope for their situation.”
In 2012, Operation Christmas Child expects to reach a milestone — collecting and delivering shoe boxes to more than 100 million children since the project began in 1993. Central Iowa residents hope to contribute more than 21,000 shoe box gifts to this year’s global collection goal of 9 million gift-filled shoe boxes in order to help surpass the 100 million milestone.
From Nov. 12 to 19, packed gifts will be dropped off at several collection sites in the central Iowa area. Once dropped off, the shoe boxes are processed, prepared and transported to suffering children in more than 100 countries using whatever means necessary — trains, airplanes, boats, elephants, bikes and even dog sleds — to get the shoe boxes into the hands of needy kids.
By using special tracking technology, participants can “follow” their shoe box and discover the country in which their gift will be hand-delivered to a child in need. For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, or to find the nearest drop-off site, visit www.SamaritansPurse.org/OCC.