Church holds shoeboxing party for Operation Christmas Child

ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Laurel Hill Baptist Church in Albemarle County held its Ultimate Shoebox Packing Party on Friday night to provide Christmas gifts for children in need around the world.

Churches all over the country participate in the Samaritan Purse, Operation Christmas Child program. Samaritan Purse is a Christian organization that provides international relief to victims of war, poverty, and natural disasters.

Laurel Hill Baptist Church made a fun event out of helping by getting everyone from the church and other local churches involved.

Eva Reyes, who was at the event to pack boxes, used to receive a box herself when she was growing up in Honduras with her two brothers.

"Every single December, we were expecting to receive these boxes when we [were children], we were so excited in December that we knew that those boxes were coming," said Reyes.

She said it was a big event when her mom took them to their church to get their box.

"We were so happy because we're not expecting, ‘oh big gift,’” said Reyes. “We just had that feeling that you're receiving something from somebody, they're thinking of you. That's amazing. That's a good feeling."

Deanna Villers, the co-chairman for Operation Christmas Child at the church, said the goal is to pack more than 1,000 boxes. They are shipped across the world to war-torn countries.

"They deliver them to villages all over,” said Villers. “By donkey, by elephants, by camels, on foot, they carry them for many miles over the mountains."

Villers said they have been collecting all year. The church collects toys, school supplies, tools for older kids, hygiene products for older girls, and stuffed animals for everyone.

"That is very very important for each child regardless of the gender, regardless of the age,” said Villers, “because little boys love and cuddle and get comfort from stuffed animals as well."

Reyes moved to Central Virginia from Honduras almost three years ago, and now she's helping pack these boxes with her own two children for other kids who need the gifts the most.

"I was teaching my boy that we're giving gifts from the heart,” said Reyes. “We don't know where they go but you know that some kid out there is going to have the same feeling that I had a couple of years ago."

National collection week for the shoeboxes is Nov. 18 to 25. Check out the Operation Christmas Child website in the Related Links box to learn more.

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