"When they open their shoebox gifts, the harsh world around them fades and their hearts fill with wonder and joy as they see the treasures within."

- From Operation Christmas Child booklet

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Operation Christmas Child, a branch of Samaritan's Purse, packs shoeboxes to be delivered to children around the world for Christmas.

The Ladies of the Women United for Church, St. Paul's United Church of Christ, Indianland, Lehigh Township, had decided not to exchange Christmas gifts.

Women United member Pat Ritz saw a program on Christian TV station WBPH about Operation Christmas Child which was narrated by Pat Huber. She provided a film for the church featuring the Operation Christmas Child program.

District coordinator Lanette Dahlman, accompanied by a former recipient of a shoebox, visited the church when the film was shown, said Shirley Eckhart. They then decided to participate in the project.

The group had a table at the Dream Come True event at Becky's Drive-In and passed out brochures. Boxes were provided from members of the church family, relatives and people outside the church.

One hundred eight boxes were packed and wrapped. They were first delivered to Bible Fellowship Church in Whitehall and were then moved to a processing center in North Carolina. From there, the boxes are transported overseas where national leadership teams deliver them to churches, schools, orphanages and hospitals.

The 108 boxes will be added to the more than 77 million already sent over the years.

The Rev. Martin Nuscher gave a prayer to start the boxes on their way after they were loaded and ready to go to Whitehall.

"This is not a gift of trinkets but boxes filled with love and compassion. ... for whoever that nameless, faceless person is where the boxes will do the greatest good," he said.

People are already asking if they will do it again because they want to help, evidence of the success of the project.