"We'd like to at least collect 4,500 [shoe boxes] this year," Alford added.
Operation's Christmas Child's National Collection Week, falls this year from Monday, Nov. 16, through Monday, Nov. 23. And, while the emphasis on collecting doesn't officially start for another week, shoe boxes and other donations are already being accepted, said Alford, who added making a donation is "very easy."
Donors may take an empty shoe box or small plastic container and fill it with gifts for a girl or boy child. The boxes will be organized by age category - 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14 - and by gender before being distributed.
Alford, who traveled to the Dominican Republic with Operation Christmas Child last February, said seemingly trivial items like pens and pencils, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and toy cars and dolls can mean the world to a child in need.
"These shoe boxes are precious to them. It's hard for us to believe, because we have so much," said Alford. "But, when someone across the world that doesn't know them would pack such a box, with such treasures for them, it just gives them hope."
Boxes, which are asked to be accompanied with a $7 donation per box to cover transportation costs, may be dropped off at the First Assembly of God Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday, 1-5 p.m., through Nov. 23. The boxes be will shipped out from the collection center promptly Tuesday morning, said Alford, making it necessary all donations are turned in before then.
Those interested in learning more about Operation Christmas Child or in making a donation, may contact Alford at 563-5799 or visit the project's Web site at www.samaritanspurse.org.
How to help
Download a list of items that may be donated to Operation Christmas Child, including instructions on how to assemble a donation box, by visiting: www.samaritanspurse.org/pdf/PackABoxwithLabels.pdf.