While most people in the U.S. are preparing for holiday activities, Spring Grove volunteers with Operation Christmas Child - the world's largest Christmas project of its kind - are filling shoe box gifts with toys, school supplies and hygiene items for needy children overseas.

This year-round project of international Christian relief and evangelism organization Samaritan's Purse, headed by Franklin Graham, is ramping up as local businesses, churches and community groups prepare to collect 100 gift-filled shoeboxes during National Collection Week (Nov. 12 - 19).

Anyone can drop off a packed shoebox at the Calvary Evangelical Free Church, 20482 Highway 44 west of Spring Grove.

Then, using whatever means necessary - trucks, trains, boats, bikes and even elephants - the shoe box gifts will be hand-delivered to hurting children in 100 countries around the world.

The Calvary Church will be open to collect shoeboxes on the following dates:

Monday, Nov 12: 3 - 5 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov 13: - 5 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov 14: 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Thursday, Nov 15: 5 - 7 p.m.

Friday, Nov 16: 5 - 7 p.m.

Saturday, Nov 17: 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Sunday, Nov 18: 1 - 3 p.m.



In 2012, Operation Christmas Child expects to reach a milestone - collecting and delivering shoeboxes to more than 100 million children since 1993.

During that time, Operation Christmas Child has collected more than 94 million shoebox gifts and hand-delivered them to suffering children in more than 130 countries.

This year, Operation Christmas Child hopes to collect another 9 million gift-filled shoeboxes. Through the power of a simple gift and the message of hope through Jesus Christ, children learn they are loved and not forgotten. For many children, the shoebox gift will be the first gift they have ever received.

Operation Christmas Child uses tracking technology to allow participants to "follow" their box to the destination country where it will be given to a child in need.

To register shoebox gifts and find out the destination country, use the "Follow Your Box" donation form found at www.samaritanspurse.org/occ.

For more information on how to participate in Calvary Church's Operation Christmas Child, call (507) 498-5386 or toll-free 1-800-353-5949.

National Collection Week for gift-filled shoeboxes is Nov. 12-19; however, shoebox gifts are collected all year at the Samaritan's Purse headquarters in Boone, N.C.