With holiday supplies already covering the store shelves, Fort Smith individuals, families, churches and groups are working to make Christmas a reality for needy kids around the world by filling shoeboxes with toys, school supplies, hygiene items and notes of encouragement. Operation Christmas Child, the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind, is ramping up as Fort Smith residents prepare to collect more than 3,200 gift-filled shoeboxes during National Collection Week (Nov. 18–25).

At a local collection site in the Fort Smith area, anyone can drop off a gift-filled shoebox to send to a child overseas. Then using whatever means necessary—trucks, trains, boats, bikes and even elephants—the shoebox gifts will be delivered to children worldwide. For many children, the shoebox gift will be the first gift they have ever received.

Fort Smith COLLECTION SITE:

Central Christian Church

400 N Waldron Road

Fort Smith, AR 72903

Operating Hours: Mon Nov 18 — Fri Nov 22: 12 p.m. - 4 p.m. Sat Nov 23: 12 p.m. - 6 p.m. Sun Nov 24: 12 p.m. - 6 p.m. Mon Nov 25: 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Other nearby COLLECTION SITES:

First Baptist Church

924 S Crawford Street

Clarksville, AR 72830

Operating Hours: Mon Nov 18 — Fri Nov 22: 8 a.m. - 10 a.m. Sat Nov 23: 8 a.m. - 10 a.m. Sun Nov 24: 1 p.m. - 3 p.m. Mon Nov 25: 8:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

For more information regarding these collection locations, call 1-800-567-8580.

Though the shoebox gifts will often travel thousands of miles, Operation Christmas Child offers a way for participants to follow their box by using the donation form found at samaritanspurse.org. Donors will receive an email telling the country where their shoeboxes are delivered.

Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 100 million shoebox gifts to suffering children in more than 100 countries since 1993. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, Operation Christmas Child hopes to collect another 9.8 million gift-filled shoeboxes in 2013. Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham.

For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, call 615-778-0046 or visit samaritanspurse.org. National Collection Week for gift-filled shoeboxes is Nov. 18-25; however, shoebox gifts are collected all year at the Samaritan’s Purse headquarters in Boone, N.C. Participants can also build a box through an online tool offering a personalized and convenient way to send a gift to a child in one of the hardest-to-reach countries.