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INDEPENDENCE – The third week of November is always collection week for Operation Christmas Child (OCC), a project of Samaritan’s Purse. Volunteers around the world pack more than 11 million shoebox gifts that Operation Christmas Child ships around the world. They coordinate events with overseas churches and orphanages to supply them with gifts and teaching materials to share with children. Gifts typically include hygiene items, school supplies, a special gift, and toys for a child.

Many volunteers worked together to collect 642 boxes this year from Buchanan and adjacent counties. In addition to individual donors, these church youth groups and parishes brought gift boxes:

· Church of Christ United, Winthrop

· First Baptist Church, Oelwein

· First Presbyterian Church, Rowley and Independence

· Harvest Church, Vinton

· Hope Wesleyan, Independence

· Immaculate Conception, Masonville

· Immanuel Lutheran, Independence

· Quasky Union Church

· St. John School, Independence

· St. Patrick Catholic Parish, Winthrop

· Stanley Union Church

· Triumphant Church, Independence

Triumphant Church in Independence has been the local drop-off site for OCC for the past 10 years. Fifteen volunteers from the church packed the boxes of gifts into 43 cartons that were sent to Waterloo, where they will be shipped to Chicago and then organized and sent all around the world.

Samaritan’s Purse is a non-profit organization that also provides emergency care to victims of disasters like hurricanes, gives support to veterans, participates in many overseas medical missions. If you would like more information on how to start a shoebox movement in your church or civic group, check out the website at occinfo@samaritan.org.