Operation Christmas Child, (OCC) is the world’s largest Christmas project. It uses gift-filled shoe boxes to let needy children know that they are loved and not forgotten. Operation Christmas Child reaches millions of children with a message of hope and love.

The project began in the United States in 1993 with 28,000 shoe box gifts. Since then, Samaritan’s Purse has collected and hand-delivered shoe boxes to children in more than 130 countries.

Every fall the community of Mesquite has generously supported the project. Last year 1,661 shoeboxes were shipped from Mesquite. This year the goal is even higher.

On Oct. 21 and 22, Oct. 28 and 29, Nov. 4 and 5 and Nov. 11 and 12, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. OCC volunteers from local churches will staff tables outside the Mesquite Dollar Stores. Shoppers will be invited to purchase one or two items from the stores to be donated towards filling shoe box gifts.  A gift suggestion list will be available.

First Baptist Church is the Mesquite Operation Christmas Child Drop-off Site for Shoe Box Gifts during the National Collection Week, Nov. 14 – 20. Boxes can be dropped off at 700 Hardy Way, Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and Sunday from 2-4 p.m.  From Mesquite the Shoeboxes will be transported to Las Vegas, where they start their journey to give hurting children living in desperate situations hope and the love of Jesus.

For those interested in participating in this program or with questions, please contact Mesquite’s OCC Relay Center Coordinator Leslee Montgomery at 702-540-3368, or visit www.samaritanspurse.org/occ for more information.