Area churches participating in Operation Christmas Child

What: Operation Christmas Child is an organization that collects shoe boxes full of gifts to distribute to less-fortunate children around the world. The project — run by Samaritan's Purse International Relief — provides gifts ranging from school supplies and personal hygiene products to toys and and other gifts. The group hopes to deliver its 100 millionth shoe box full of goodies this Christmas season.

When: Area churches will be collecting goods to stuff in boxes during National Collection Week, November 12-19. Shoe boxes can be dropped off at the Rolla collection center (located at the First Baptist Church in Rolla) during the following hours: Nov. 12, noon-4 p.m.; Nov. 13, noon-2 p.m.; Nov. 14 noon-2 p.m. and 5-7 p.m.; Nov. 15, noon-2p.m.; Nov 16, 10 a.m.-noon; Nov. 17, 2-4 p.m. and Nov. 18, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Last year, the Rolla Collection Center, gathered 8,385 shoe boxes full of gifts. This year’s team wants to collect 10,000 boxes this season. All participating churches in the area collect their own boxes and drop them off at the Rolla Collection Center where they will be later loaded in a semi truck and shipped all over the world.

Organizer quote: “This really is a mission, we are showing (kids) the love of God,” said Melissa Dereberry, one of the organizers of the event. “(The boxes) go everywhere. All over the world. A lot of them go to third-world countries. A lot of times this is the first gift these children have ever received.”

What you should include in the boxes: While people may immediately jump to fill the boxes with toys and candy, Dereberry said it is equally important to include personal hygiene products, washcloths, toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc. She also said if you pack any items that require batteries, to include extra because the children often don’t have access to batteries.

Why you should participate: “It is a way for those of us that have the means, to give them a small gift and show them that they are cared about,” said Dereberry.

For more information about how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, call Janice Hartinger at (573)341-2898, or visit