RAND, W.Va.--A shoebox filled with gifts can mean immeasurable joy for a child this Christmas season.
It's National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan's Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. Since 1993, more than 100 million gift-filled shoeboxes have gone to needy children in more than 100 countries.
Many area churches and organizations have been putting together shoeboxes for needy kids and delivering them to drop-off points such as Rand First Church of the Nazarene.
This marks the 18th year the church has served as a collection site, Pastor Gordon Killion said.
The shoebox ministry meets a special need for children throughout the world who have so little, he said.
He has heard many stories about children who have received the boxes.
One little girl was happy to find a bar of soap in her box. She would smell the soap because it made her feel pretty. However, she would not use it because that would mean it would be gone.
Another child opened a box and selected only one item before realizing that all of the treasures within could be kept.
"This is about a little shoebox and the opportunity to give someone something they would not have otherwise," Gordon said. "From a religious point, it's an opportunity to give hope beyond a shoebox or a Christmas gift. Franklin Graham tries to teach them about the love of Jesus Christ and give them hope that goes beyond Christmas."
The boxes collected locally will go to Boone, N.C., where religious pamphlets will be inserted in the language of the country where a box is headed. Shoeboxes are sent by plane to various countries and may reach their final destinations by Jeep, truck, train, boat, bike, camel or elephant.
For many children, a shoebox will be their only Christmas gift. Some have never previously received a gift of any kind.
Faith Caldwell, media associate for Operation Christmas Child, is based in Xenia, Ohio, the regional office for West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.