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Press Photo by Linda Sailer Gate City Bank employee Katy Miller, left, shows items she packed in an Operation Christmas Child shoebox, to vice president/bank manager Tim Brumfield. The employees packed approximately 10 boxes for the charity.

Operation Christmas Child: Shoeboxes going to children around the world

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Needy children around the world will have a happier Christmas if individuals, civic groups, schools and businesses fill shoeboxes as gifts through Operation Christmas Child.

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"People all over southwestern North Dakota are getting shoeboxes -- they've been flying out the door, which is great," regional coordinator Jodeen Myers said.

The program is a part of Samaritan's Purse, a Christian relief and evangelization program. It is an opportunity to fill a shoebox with small toys, hygiene items and school supplies. Local boxes will be sent to 12 countries including Brazil, Albania, Haiti, Kenya, Rwanda, Togo and Malaysia.

The red-and-green shoeboxes are available at St. John Lutheran Church, 146 Sixth Ave. W. The local drive collected 1,031 boxes last year. This year, the goal is to fill 1,200 boxes. More than 8.7 million boxes were collected internationally last year.

"It's such an easy thing to do -- fill a small shoebox with items for needy children -- these are the poorest of the poor," Myers said.

She also suggests enclosing a personal note or a picture of the individual giving the gift.

"The children love seeing where the box came from," she said. "One family from St. John's heard back from their child. While it's pretty rare, it was pretty cool to hear back."

Participants are asked to include $7 with each box to help with shipping. Persons may pay the $7 online and track the destination of the box. Go to www.samartianspurse.org.

"I look forward to it every year," Myers said. "I start looking for items after the first of the year so I can pack more boxes."

In addition to individuals and family participation, businesses and civic groups also may help.

Gate City vice president/bank manager Tim Brumfield said the bank's employees have been filling boxes for five years.

It's one way Gate City gives to give back to community -- this time on a global basis, he said.

Employee Katy Miller filled a box for the first time this year.

"It's fun to do and its things that they need," she said.

If the church runs out of boxes, an ordinary shoebox will suffice. Plastic shoeboxes are welcome, as they can be reused, Myers said.

Return the shoeboxes to the church from Nov. 11 through Nov. 18.

For more information, call Myers at 701-225-3406 or the church at 701-225-6747.

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