Volunteers with Operation Christmas Child encourage people to take advantage of back to school sales for gifts to be packed into Christmas packages for needy children.

Affiliated with the non-denominational group Samaritan’s Purse, the shoeboxes filled with gifts are delivered to kids in war-torn or devastated nations. Donors are asked to give $7 per box to help defray shipping costs.

Small toys, crayons, markers, toothbrushes, notebooks and pencils brighten the lives of children who have literally nothing. In 2013, service groups, clubs, businesses, private schools, individuals and churches from the Tri-Cities and Eastern Oregon region donated a total of 14,816 shoeboxes.

The shoebox gifts are collected the third week of November at area churches. They are trucked to Los Angeles and readied for shipping around the world.

To learn more about the project, people are invited to an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox kick-off celebration Friday, Sept. 19 at 7 p.m. at South Hills Church, 3700 W. 27th Ave., Kennewick.

For more information, contact Fay Smith at smith_fay@yahoo.com or visit www.samaritanspurse.org/occ.

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