Samaritan's Purse receiver recounts first Christmas shoebox

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Millions of children all over the world will have a gift to open this Christmas, thanks to "Operation Christmas Child."

Operation Christmas Child - a project of Samaritan's Purse - is a way of providing Christmas joy to children in need.

Just ask Jaki Steward. She said they shoebox she got as a little girl changed her life.

On Saturday, Steward helped stuff shoeboxes at the Raleigh Rescue Mission.

Their goal is to fill more than 42,000 shoeboxes with toys, school supplies, and hygiene items that will go to children in more than 100 countries.

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Steward said while they gifts are simple, they go a long way.

She was 5-years-old when she received her first shoebox; she was living in an orphanage in Guatemala where she shared everything with the other children like clothes, toys, and even her toothbrush.

"Growing up in this home, I often felt alone and unwanted but when missionaries came, that's when we felt loved and special because not only were they there to work, but they were there to spend time with us and give us hugs and tell us that they loved us," she explained.

While Raleigh volunteers and residents have already begun collecting more than 42,500 gift-filled shoeboxes for the 2017 holiday, they still need your help.

They're looking for people to make or buy boxes for children in need.

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 online 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's national collection week runs from November 13-20.

For more information, visit Samaritan's Purse's website.
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