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Local schools, churches and groups gather gifts for children worldwide

Students of All Saints Catholic School gather Tuesday around the 90 shoeboxes full of gifts that they and their families have donated to Operation Christmas Child. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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For some children in the world, a little box of crayons and coloring books, school supplies or clothing will be their only and first Christmas gift, and about 2,000 of the gift recipients will be receiving their goodies from members of Roswell churches, community organizations and schools, including All Saints Catholic School.

Jean White, left, and Febe Ramirez, local volunteers for Operation Christmas Child, work Tuesday to organize some of the shoebox gifts that have been delivered to Grace Community Church. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Operation Christmas Child is an international toy donation effort with a Christian purpose. Children who receive the shoebox-sized boxes of goodies also learn about Christian scriptures.

The global effort has occurred for 25 years. All Saints has been involved for 15 years.

This year, All Saints students and families donated about 90 boxes, along with the $9 shipping fee per box. After saying prayers for the children receiving the gifts, the students and staff delivered packages to Grace Community Church on West Mescalero Road, the local drop-off location that will collect and process boxes in this area.

All Saints kindergarten teacher Vivian Kreitz said the project helps students learn the value of helping others.

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“They feel very proud to be able to help a child in need and put a smile on their faces,” she said. “For them, it is very rewarding.”

Some students also write up a report about Operation Christmas Child and their school’s part in it.

Grace Community Church has been working with the project for about 11 years, according to Patsy Hamilton.

She said that the international charitable effort reaches more than 100 countries and provides about two million gifts each year.

The church is looking for volunteers at all times of the year and for shoebox-gift donations until Nov. 19.

“You don’t have to be a Christian. You don’t even have to be a church-goer,” she said. “You just have to want to give something to a child.”

For more information on volunteering or for drop-off hours for donations, call Hamilton at 575-626-2071.