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TUPELO, MISS. (WCBI) – For about an hour staffers at American Family Association had a packing party.

“They plan to pack 500 shoe box gifts, 250 for girls and 250 for boys with special items and they will be hand delivered by our international volunteers,” said Rachael Mills, with Operation Christmas Child.

Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has helped kids worldwide experience the joy of Christmas and the message of Christ.  The outreach allows families, individuals, churches and businesses to fill empty  shoeboxes with toys, school supplies and other gifts for needy kids.

“That’s why we do this to share the Good News of Jesus with these kids who have nothing,” Mills said.

There is a special guest at this packing party, who knows first hand the impact a simple shoebox filled with gifts can have.   Renan Perdomo lived in a small village in Honduras.  He had dreamed of going to school, but his parents couldn’t afford basic supplies.  Then, one day some missionaries came bearing shoe boxes.

“That was my first present ever in my life, the first present came into our family. They say you got to open it, and guess what, I opened the shoe box and guess what was in that shoe box?  School supplies.  When I saw the pencils and notebook it was like, I’m going to school now,” Perdomo said.

So Renan helped celebrate a milestone by placing some pencils in the 100th million shoe box packed through Operation Christmas Child as a video crew from the North Carolina based ministry was chronicling the moment.

For several years now, AFA has helped promote the shoebox ministry through its print and electronic media outlets.  Executive Vice President Buddy Smith  and his wife were able to witness the shoebox gifts distributed earlier this year in Ecuador.  He says the experience was life changing.

“It’s really exciting , everybody gets a box,  a boy a boy box, girl a girl box and then there’s a countdown and everybody opens their box,” Smith recalled.

This packing party coincides with National Collection Week .  Each box will be processed and transported to kids in more than 100 countries. Touching lives and changing hearts, one shoebox at a time.

Columbus  also has a collection center. It is located in the parking lot of the Farmers Market, open 8-5. Monday the 19th will be the last day to bring boxes.

For more information go to http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/OCC/

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