Southwest Coloradans got an early start on the holidays by collecting a record number of shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.
During the week of Nov. 16-23, 4,500 shoeboxes filled with toys, personal-hygiene items and school supplies were assembled for children in impoverished areas of the world through Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization led by Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s son. The previous record, set in 2014, was 3,242 gifts, a 40 percent increase.
The First United Methodist Church of Durango served as the collection center.
Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has delivered gift-filled shoeboxes to more than 124 million children in more than 150 countries. This year’s goal is to deliver 1.1 million boxes.
For those who missed the local collection period but want to participate, Operation Christmas Child offers a virtual shoebox-packing tool at www.samaritanspurse.org/buildonline.