Local Group Gives Gifts Around the World

Related Story

COLUMBIA - Operation Christmas Child kicked off its season of giving on Monday with its national collection week.  The nationwide organization has several Mid-Missouri drop off locations where people can contribute shoe boxes filled with toys and necessities.  Volunteers deliver the boxes to children in poorer areas around the world for Christmas.

Collection Center Coordinator Tim Flint is optimistic about mid-Missouri participation this year. His goal for the area is to collect 7,000 boxes.  The shoe boxes are packaged and sent to Minneapolis. From there, they are distributed around the world.  Last year mid-Missouri collected 6,600 shoe boxes.

"I think it could be better.  As many people that live around Columbia and Boonville and Jeff City, we could do a lot better and we're going to work on that," Flint said.

Flint hopes the new drop off center in Ashland will help the group reach this year's goal.  There are five drop off locations in mid-Missouri: Signature Foods in Columbia, First Baptist Church in Boonville, First Baptist Church in Centralia, First Baptist Church in Fulton and Ashland Baptist Church.

 "We're pretty excited, we think we're going to do better than last year," Flint said.

Last year, Operation Christmas Child collected 8.2 million boxes nationwide that it distributed to 100 countries around the world.

"They say when these are delivered, especially in the back country, sometimes they'll transport these in on an elephant, maybe on a canoe in the jungle or something, all kinds of different ways to transport these to the villages," Flint said.

The boxes are packed with items that cater to either boys or girls.  The contents are a mixture of necessities like socks, soap and toothpaste as well as candy and toys. 

"Most of them have never gotten a present, a lot of them haven't.  And a lot of them are in orphanages so they don't have much opportunity like that.  But they always have a big smile on their face, very excited."

 This year's national collection week will last through November 21.