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Collecting shoeboxes of holiday cheer

POULSBO — Tracy Wall’s sons always start getting anxious for the holidays about this time of year.

But it’s not the turkey that will be on their table, or the presents under their tree they’re excited about. It’s a little care package that will be sent through Operation Christmas Child to another kid who might otherwise have nothing.

“As the holidays start to roll around they start to ask, ‘Are we doing Operation Christmas Child? When can I start my box?’ and ‘Are we collecting this year?’” Wall said.

Operation Christmas Child is a holiday project run by the national organization Samaritan’s Purse. It aims at bringing joy to children living in impoverished and war-torn areas by asking people to fill an ordinary shoe box with items like toys, art supplies, candy and anything else a child might enjoy. Last year, 5.4 million shoeboxes full of holiday joy were donated nationwide.

Poulsbo’s Christ Memorial Church has coordinated local donations to Operation Christmas Child for the past several years. Wall said her oldest son was 4 years old when she first heard about Operation Christmas Child and she jumped at the opportunity not only to make a difference, but also to teach her son about the gift of giving during the holidays.

“It’s interesting that children want to give to children who are like them, so he chose a 4-year-old boy and he started to put together this box of a little ball and Hot Wheels. What really touched me was how personal it was to him, so many things kids can’t be involved in, but this he could get involved in,” Wall remembered. “My son will be 10 this year and he’s done it ever since and now my two other sons also do it and they put so much time into it, it’s so precious. It’s children giving to children and families giving to families.”

This year, Christ Memorial will once again be accepting boxes for Operation Christmas Child Nov. 18-25.

And they’re hoping the community will dig deep and support the effort because of the changes they’ve seen, both in the lives of needy children and in their own lives. Wall said she’s seen film footage of the children receiving their small presents and it always brings tears to her eyes.

“When these are handed out, these children are just transformed,” Wall explained. “Children who live in poverty and fear lose a lot of their child-like features and I’ve seen video, it’s so touching to see these children’s eyes light up.”

Information about Operation Christmas Child in the Poulsbo area is available at the Christ Memorial Church front desk or by calling Tracy Wall at (360) 779-8077. More information is also available by going to http://www.samaritanspurse.org and clicking on the icon.

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