Gifts go to children in need

Grace Bible Church aims for 20,000 boxes filled with presents for kids

Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich In assembly-line fashion, volunteers pack shoe boxes with toys and other small gifts Thursday evening as part of the Grace Bible Church’s outreach for Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child.

Hollidaysburg — Hundreds of church congregants packed 20,000 gifts this week for shipment by Christmas to children living in poverty all over the world.

Grace Bible Church in Hollidaysburg has participated in the national effort of Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child for more than a decade, church member Janice McDowell said Thursday.

“I’ve seen videos of the children opening the boxes. To see the joy radiate from a child and get excited about just the contents in that small box is what is so rewarding. And ultimately, it’s showing the love of Christ,” McDowell said.

Throughout the year, church members collect toys, simple personal hygiene items and school supplies to be gifted. The year-long effort culminates with large packing parties in November attended by hundreds of people.

Last year, the Mirror reported that boxes are distributed to more than 100 countries, including Sudan, Afghanistan, Jordan, West Africa and Haiti.

On Thursday, a steady line of gift givers and packers filled the church at Laurel Lane in Hollidaysburg.

Jared and Jenna Treece and their three young children packed gifts together.

“The kids really take their time picking out what they want to put in the boxes,” Jared said.

“If you see how the gifts impact the children, it is really heartwarming,” he said.

Although the church’s goal was to pack 20,000 boxes, the church’s project director Shannon Krater said about 20,100 could be packed and sent from the church.

“It is really neat to see how the Lord provides,” she said.

Local residents can still participate in Operation Christmas child by visiting samaritanspurse.org.

A $7 donation is needed to cover shipping costs. By following the instructions on the website, participants can get a label that allows them to track where their package is delivered and instructions about what to pack in the boxes.

Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.