In 2018, First Baptist Church of Greensburg was recognized by Operation Christmas Child for being a community drop-off location. Pictured are (back row) Pastor Cliff Bunch, Patti Leitgabel, Linda Lower; (middle row) Bob Leitgabel, Mindy Bunch, Mary Ann Shafer; (front row) Janet Cook, Pat Rodgers, Ruth Ann Robertson.

GREENSBURG – For several years, First Baptist Church of Greensburg, 209 W. Washington Street, has been a major organizer and drop-off point for “Operation Christmas Child,” a relief effort delivering millions of gift-filled shoe boxes to children in countries affected by war, disaster, disease, poverty and famine.

Operation Christmas Child District Manager Linda Hall told the Daily News, “We send these boxes to over 100 countries, and it’s hard to imagine, but receiving a shoe box full of school supplies or personal care items can change a life. A little girl wrote the organization and explained how she was very thankful to have her own toothbrush, because before, she had to share her toothbrush with nine other children. For some children, that shoe box is the first gift they’ve ever received.”

Over the past five years, 6,204 shoe box gifts have been packed and donated to Operation Christmas Child by the Greensburg community.

More than 90,000 churches and groups in the United States partner with Operation Christmas Child to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to millions of children in need. Nearly 5,000 of those churches serve as drop-off locations for the project.

Through Operation Christmas Child, children, families and groups fill shoe boxes with fun toys, school supplies, and hygiene items, creating gifts that can make a life-changing difference in the hearts of children around the world.

Bob Leitgabel and wife Patti are local Operation Christmas Child organizers again this year.

“We looking forward to collecting shoe boxes again this year with Operation Christmas Child during the project’s National Collection Week, November 18 to the 25th,” Bob said.

Participants can donate $9 per shoe box 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 shoe box 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.

Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 157 million gift-filled shoe boxes to children in more than 160 countries and territories.

For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, visit samaritanspurse.org/occ or call the Leitgabels at 812-663-6588 or email at bob_leitgabel@yahoo.com.

Contact Bill Rethlake at 812-663-3111 ext 217011 or email bill.rethlake@greensburgdailynews.com

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