PUBLISHED: 4:40 PM on Wednesday, November 8, 2006
Filling shoeboxes for many children around the world

Courtesy photo
  Jillian Messerschmidt, left, and Natalie Shier, students of Gay Paresky pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.
Families across Southeast Alaska, coast to coast, and from 11 other countries are participating in Operation Christmas Child, which this year is expected to send over 8 million gift filled shoe boxes to needy children in 90 countries worldwide.

For many of these children, the shoe box gift will be the first gift they have ever received.

Children, families, churches, scout troops, schools, civic clubs, and businesses are filling their shoe boxes now.

From Nov. 13-17, shoe box gifts can be dropped off at Chapel by the Lake church. They will be packed for shipment with other SE Alaska boxes.

Suggested gifts are small toys, stuffed animals, T-shirts, baseball hats, balls and dolls, postcards of Southeast Alaska, flashlights and spare batteries, school supplies and paper, hard candy, hygiene items like toothbrush and paste, family photos, and notes of encouragement.

Operation Christmas Child, the world's largest Christmas project, will hand-deliver millions of shoe boxes to children suffering from natural disaster, disease, war, terrorism, poverty, and famine.

In southeast Alaska just over 3,000 boxes were filled last year. Families, scout troops, school classes, 30 churches, civic clubs, and businesses are filling their shoe boxes this month across Southeast Alaska.

Operation Christmas Child uses truck, boat, plane, helicopter, donkey, dog sled, even camel-to bring shoe boxes to children in more than 90 countries.

Justine Emerson, the Southeast Alaska coordinator, said, "For many of these children, the shoe box will contain the first gifts they have ever received. The boxes go to children in orphanages, small villages, schools for the handicapped, children living on the street, and many others who are thrilled that someone cared enough to pack a box just for them." "It was the first doll I ever remember receiving. A shoe box really can make a difference-I remember how great it made me feel to know someone I didn't even know cared about me. I love that I can help make another child feel that way!" said Abby Peterson, Age 14 who was later adopted from Russian orphanage by U.S. family.

Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child, a project of international Christian relief organization Samaritan's Purse, has hand-delivered more than 46 million shoe box gifts to youngsters in some 90 countries who have endured difficult life circumstances.

"For more details or brochures, you can contact Justine Emerson at 586-3321.

Shoe box gifts can also be mailed to Samaritan's Purse: 801 Bamboo Road, Boone, N.C. 28607. For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child or to download a brochure and shoe box label, call (800) 353-5949 or visit