Volunteers with Operation Christmas Child   the world s largest Christmas project of its kind   are filling shoe box gifts with toys, school supplies and
Volunteers with Operation Christmas Child the world s largest Christmas project of its kind are filling shoe box gifts with toys, school supplies and hygiene items for needy children overseas at York Township s Arlington Evangelical Congregational Church. Boxes were decorated, such as the one pictured above, done by a 4-year-old named Hannah. Volunteers in Mount Wolf are also taking part at Otterbein United Methodist Church. (Bil Bowden photo)

York County has a chance to share some holiday love with children around the world.

Operation Christmas Child, a worldwide gift-giving program done by Boone, N.C.-based Samaritan's Purse, plans to collect 9.1 million gift-filled shoe boxes to send to children in more then 100 countries around the world.

About 4,700 boxes are expected to come from York County. The gift boxes are being collected until Friday.

Collection sites, also called relay centers, are at Arlington Evangelical Congregational Church, 585 Lombard Road, Red Lion; and at Otterbein United Methodist Church-The Carpenter Center, 5 Center St.,Mount Wolf.

Gift boxes also can be dropped off at Life Way Christian Store at 2320 Industrial Highway in Springettsbury Township, said Kim Blank, area coordinator for

Pete Goheen of York Township checks one of the boxes at the York Township church.
Pete Goheen of York Township checks one of the boxes at the York Township church. (Bil Bowden photo)

Operation Christmas Child.

"This is (an opportunity) to share God's love with a child who wouldn't otherwise know God's love," said Blank, of Donegal Township, Lancaster County.

The gift boxes do not have to be wrapped, though Blank suggests that rubber bands be placed around the boxes to keep the contests inside.

Gift-box donors are asked to also donate $7 to help with shipping costs, she said.

Filling the box: Gift ideas for the boxes include, toys and school supplies, as well as personal hygiene products like hair brushes, combs, soap, wash cloths and mouth care items, Blank said.

The gifts should be provided according to age groups of 2 to 4, 5 to 9, and 10-14, she said.

The local collection area consists of York, Lancaster and Lebanon counties, said the Rev. Dan Blank, Blank's husband, who also is an area coordinator.

They said the total goal for the area is to collect 22,500 gift-filled shoe boxes. All collected gifts within their coverage area will be shipped to a processing center in Charlotte, N.C., which will distribute the shoe boxes around the world.

Last year, Operation Christmas child shipped 8.6 million gift-filled shoe boxes overseas to children in more than 100 countries worldwide, Dan Blank said.

"For these children, this might be the only gift they will ever receive in their lives," he said. "(Donating gift boxes) is a way to make a big difference in the life of a child who may not have anything."

Besides Operation Christmas Child, Samaritan's Purse -- a nonprofit Christian organization -- provides disaster relief and medical aid programs to victims of war, natural disaster, famine, disease and poverty.

--Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at emcmillan@yorkdispatch.com.