Special to The Hays Daily News

Operation Christmas Child, a project of international Christian relief and evangelism organization Samaritan's Purse, headed by Franklin Graham, is the world's largest Christmas project. Kids, families, schools, churches and community groups participate by filling shoe boxes with school supplies, toys, necessity items, candy and a letter of encouragement.

The shoe boxes are then hand-delivered to children around the world using whatever means necessary -- sea containers, trucks, trains, airplanes, helicopters, boats, camels, even dog sleds.

"Our small effort right now can impact a child's life forever," said Debra White, Operation Christmas Child drop-off site coordinator.

Operation Christmas Child is under way right now, and Hays families hope to collect 550 shoe box gifts for children suffering from poverty, war, disease, famine and natural disaster.

Shoe box collections can be dropped off at the following locations:

* First Presbyterian Church, 2900 Hall.

* Harvest Christian Fellowship, 1007 S. Washington, Plainville,

* Otterbein United Methodist Church, Russell.

* Berean Church, Colby.

* KGCR, Brewster.

* Oakley Christian Church.

* Federated Church of McDonald

* Christian Fellowship Church, Hoxie.

* First Baptist Church, Goodland.

* First Baptist Church, St. Francis.

Donations are accepted at these locations from Monday to Nov. 23. After that, shoe box gifts can be mailed to Samaritan's Purse: 801 Bamboo Road, Boone, N.C. 28607.

In 1993, Samaritan's Purse kicked-off Operation Christmas Child in the United States with just 28,000 shoe box gifts. Since then, the project has collected more than 68 million shoe box gifts and hand-delivered them to needy children in more than 130 countries.

For more information, go to www.samaritanspurse.org.