Albany families help kids overseas

A family packs shoeboxes for the event. / Operation Christmas Child

In Albany homes, businesses, schools, and churches, people are piling up shoe boxesâ|filled not with shoes, but toys, school supplies and necessity items, lovingly selected for a child in need. Thousands of Albany kids are participating in Operation Christmas Child, the world's largest Christmas project of its kind, to make a statement to needy children worldwide: "You are not forgotten!"

Operation Christmas Child uses simple gift-filled shoe boxes to let hurting children know that they are loved. Kids, families, groups, businesses and schools pack and wrap empty shoe box gifts with items most people take for granted, including toothpaste, toys and pencils, and drop them off at one of the 10 collection sites in the Albany area. The shoe boxes are then processed and prepared to be hand-delivered to children worldwide using whatever means necessaryâ"sea containers, trucks, trains, airplanes, helicopters, boats, elephants and dog sleds.

Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected 86 million shoe box gifts and hand-delivered them to impoverished children in more than 130 countries. This year, Operation Christmas Child hopes to collect another 8.5 million gift-filled shoe boxes.

Anyone can participate in Operation Christmas Child right now. National Collection Week is Nov. 14-21. For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, or to find the nearest drop-off site, call (407) 852-3727 or visit

Operation Christmas Child uses tracking technology that allows donors to "follow" their shoe box to find out the destination country where it will be hand-delivered to a child in need.

Operation Christmas Child is a project of international Christian relief and evangelism organization Samaritan's Purse, headed by Franklin Graham. While Samaritan's Purse works to meet critical physical needs, such as clean water, health care and food, Operation Christmas Child addresses a need for which children are just as desperateâ"the need to have hope and feel loved.