Operation Christmas Child helps brighten the holidays for needy children

Members of the Kirksville community are brightening the holidays for children all over the world.

For some, the holiday season means being able to spend more time with loved ones. But for others, it's a time to give back. Operation Christmas Child serves as an opportunity to get into the spirit of giving, and shoeboxes in the area are being filled with toys for children aged 2-14.

"The boxes will go to different countries. Our boxes this year will go to Ghana, Mexico, and Togo" said Joann Louder, the collection coordinator for Operation Christmas Child.

The Rehoboth Baptist Church in Kirksville is the region's collection center, and volunteers are spending the week packing up boxes full of toys, crayons, stuffed animals, and basic hygiene items. Packing the boxes is something people of all ages can participate in, and the Kottwitz sisters have even enjoyed packing boxes for children their own ages.

"Do you think kids your age will enjoy getting boxes like this for Christmas?' I asked the girls. 'Yeah! Yeah! I think it's good. I like it!" said Amber and Kayleigh Kottwitz.

The gifts are packaged in go-boxes, which were distributed to churches and other organizations across northeast Missouri. Boxes packaged up in Edina and Unionville will make their way to Kirksville, before embarking on the next leg of their journey.

After assembly, the shoeboxes will be loaded onto a truck to Denver, and from there the packages will be shipped off to needy children all over the world. Operation Christmas Child gives a sense of joy to all of those who help with the boxing process, but Louder says nothing is better than seeing the children's faces when they receive their gifts.

"I've always been excited about it. Just to think the kids over there have nothing. Our kids have so much and when you see a film of the kids accepting these boxes, it's very exciting" Louder added.

Shoeboxes can be dropped off at the Rehoboth Baptist Church until November 25th.