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Donors raise the bar for Operation Christmas Child

POULSBO — Thousands of shoeboxes full of holiday spirit descended on Poulsbo last week.

And soon, those boxes will be bringing needy kids across the globe a taste of Christmas straight from the Kitsap Peninsula.

This week marked the end of the annual Operation Christmas Child drive at Poulsbo’s Christ Memorial Church. Last year, CMC collected about 3,500 shoeboxes from community members. This year, that number topped 4,700 shoeboxes.

“One thousand two hundred more boxes. That’s a lot of giving and a lot of children’s hearts being touched,” said Christmas Child volunteer Tamara Henry, whose whole family takes part in the annual drive.

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, more than 6 million shoe boxes were collected worldwide and distributed to children in 95 countries.

Poulsbo’s CMC has coordinated local donations to Operation Christmas Child for the past several years. Traci Wall, a volunteer for Operation Christmas Child through CMC said volunteers were overwhelmed by the community’s support, including more than 1,000 shoeboxes donated in one hour on the last day of the drive.

“We’re elated to say the least,” Wall said.

Henry credited more communities in Kitsap County and beyond getting involved for the increase in donations this year. Shoeboxes came in from as far away as Port Townsend, Sequim and Port Angeles to the Poulsbo drop-off location.

“More people and more communities are getting involved,” Henry commented. “We had one 11-year-old girl from Sequim come up with the idea that her town get involved and she collected 276 shoeboxes.”

But the collection could not have gone forward without the sturdy and enthusiastic group of volunteers who manned the CMC semi trailer for a whole week. Henry said it was cold and wet work, but gratifying to see the truck trailer nearly filled to the brim.

“Next year, we’re going to need a bigger truck,” she said.

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