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Church, community help fill shoeboxes for families for Christmas

Headed by Franklin Graham, Samaritan's Purse is working in 100 countries providing relief and aid to victims of war, natural disaster, famine, disease and poverty. One of the projects during the holidays is Operation Christmas Child, which provides millions of suffering children on six continents with gift-filled shoe boxes, according to the Samaritan's Purse website. For many of these children, it will be the first gift they have ever received.

"It really touched my heart when you think about a kid that's never ever received a gift of any kind in his life. It's mind boggling," said Jo Montgomery, who is heading up the Thomson relay center for the project.

Individuals pack a shoe box with personal hygiene items, school supplies, candy and/or gifts. The boxes are categorized to be gender- and age-specific. Last year, Thomson residents had to drive their boxes to Augusta to participate. This year, First Baptist Church became the relay center during the national collection weeks, which began Nov. 11.

As of press time Monday, First Baptist had collected over 1,000 boxes. Mrs. Montgomery and volunteers will deliver the boxes to Warren Baptist Church in Augusta, where they will be packed and delivered to Atlanta, which is one of the six major shipping centers.

A booklet in the child's native language about God's Christmas gift of Jesus is added to every box, before it is inspected and transported to country's around the world.

"So, we are teaching the children that God loves them, and they are going to be our leaders for tomorrow," Mrs. Montgomery said.

Web posted on Thursday, November 27, 2008

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