Operation Christmas Child's national collection week has come to an end, and the number of shoeboxes collected in Rolla has surpassed the project’s goal.

Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 168 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 160 countries and territories, Linda Williams, of Operation Christmas Child South Central Missouri, said. 

Williams said the South Central Missouri volunteers hoped to collect more than 12,000 gifts to contribute to the Samaritan’s Purse project’s 2019 goal of reaching 11 million children in need.

Janice Hartinger, Area Coordinator of Operation Christmas Child, announced that 12,567 shoeboxes were processed through the central drop-off in Rolla compared to last year’s count of 11,093 for Operation Christmas Child.

“We were blessed to exceed that goal by 567 shoeboxes,” Hartinger said. “We ask everyone to be in prayer that these gifts are received with the love of God inside.”

Hartinger thanked each resident who filled shoeboxes, delivered shoeboxes, collected shoeboxes and fed the people who were bringing shoeboxes in — all with the sweet spirit of welcome.

Hartinger also thanked the drop-off volunteers in each of area’s eight counties: Mary Alice Moore, Sue Rogers, Mary Owens, Stephanie Fike, Sara Mayfield, Cherri Crump, Peggy Welsch, Nancy DeVenuto, Kasey Netzley and Tammy Hickman.

Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world.