NEW FRANKLIN  This month, Grace Bible Church, 5781 Manchester Road, will be among 5,000 U.S. drop-off locations collecting shoebox gifts for children overseas during Operation Christmas Child’s National Collection Week, which runs Nov. 12-19.

New Franklin-area families, churches and groups are busy transforming empty shoeboxes into fun gifts of hope filled with fun toys, school supplies and hygiene items. The Samaritan’s Purse project partners with local churches across the globe to deliver these tangible expressions of God’s love to children affected by war, disease, disaster, poverty and famine. For many of these children, it will be the first gift they have ever received.

This year, New Franklin-area residents hope to collect more than 1,500 gifts to contribute to the 2018 global goal of reaching 11 million children in need.

"We have an opportunity to make a life-changing impact on children across the world," said Beckey Lebo, Children’s Ministry Director at Grace Bible Church, who has participated in Operation Christmas Child for more than 20 years. "These simple shoebox gifts remind children that God loves them, and they are not forgotten."

Drop offs can be made at Grace Bible Church from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 12 to Nov. 15, from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Nov. 16 and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 19.

For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, call the Great Lakes regional office at 937-374-0761 or visit samaritanspurse.org/occ. Participants can donate $9 per shoebox gift online through "Follow Your Box" and receive a tracking label to discover its destination. Those who prefer the convenience of online shopping can browse samaritanspurse.org/buildonline to select gifts matched to a child’s specific age and gender, then finish packing the virtual shoebox by adding a photo and personal note of encouragement.

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 and, together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 157 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 160 countries and territories.