Purchase photos

Operation Christmas Child a success in Hays

12/30/2013

By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT

mkenwright@dailynews.net

Children in three developing countries will receive gifts this holiday season following Operation Christmas Child's collection campaign in Hays.

Shipments already have been sent to Mexico, said Rachel Albin, volunteer relay center coordinator with Operation Christmas Child. Guyana, a Caribbean nation, and Togo, a country in West Africa, also will receive presents.

Messiah Lutheran Church had 3,980 shoeboxes filled with toys, clothes, school supplies and hygiene items dropped off at its collection center. Last year's total was 1,580 boxes.

"Celebration Community Church did a huge outpouring of boxes, and they really had a lot of people out there working towards collecting boxes," Albin said.

First Presbyterian Church in Hays, CrossPoint Church and Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church were among the other local groups that participated.

Although the Hays drop-off center began approximately 10 years ago, Operation Christmas Child has been an annual shoebox drive since 1993. The program, which is organized by Samaritan's Purse, has helped more than 100 million children in more than 130 countries, according to its website.

Albin said the successful gift drive reflects the community's strong sense of charity.

"I think we're a community that really wants to give back and cares. I think we have a big heart in Kansas," she said. "Just about any nonprofit that needs help, I think, a lot of times is well taken care of in this community."

Albin transported the packages to Salina, and they were taken to Denver. The shoeboxes are expected to reach their final destinations soon.