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Operation Christmas Child is under way

This holiday season, Hastings residents are working to brighten the lives of millions of needy children around the world. Right now, volunteers are preparing for the collection of gift-filled shoe boxes for the world's largest Christmas project of its kind, Operation Christmas Child, at a new collection site for the Hastings area.

Calvary Christian Church in Hastings is the collection site next week, Monday through Sunday, Nov. 12 to Nov. 18, where shoe boxes filled with both practical items and special treats for kids are dropped off.

This is Calvary Christian Church's first year as a collection site for the worldwide project.

This year Samaritan Church (the umbrella program) expects to surpass more than 100 million gift-filled shoe boxes since it began in 1993.

Suggested gifts are school supplies, small toys, hygiene items and hard candy (no chocolate.)

Church members learned about the Operation Christmas Child in late September when spokesperson Alex Nsengimana talked about it at a worship service and the impact it had on him as a child.

He was living in an orphanage when the shoe boxes were delivered. Inside one of them were a comb and candy cane. They were the best possible presents.

"I remember the orphanage leaders calling all the children into the yard and telling us that they had gifts for us from America," he said. "Inside the box were the comb and candy cane."

He has never forgotten the gift, he said.

He currently lives in Minnesota and attends Crossroads College in Rochester. He is studying to become a pastor. When he is not in school he travels in the region talking about Operation Christmas Child.

More information is available at www.samaritanpurse.

org., or by calling the church at 437-5950.