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'Some have never had a gift before' | Operation Christmas Child kicks off National Collection Week

All week long, local churches, schools and individuals are packing Christmas gifts for children around the world.

TENNESSEE, USA — Christmas is right around the corner and this week, you can help give a gift to children around the world and it begins with a shoebox. 

Operation Christmas Child is a nationwide effort to provide kids all over the world with a Christmas gift. 

The goal is to pack shoeboxes with toys and school supplies for millions of kids. 

The mission is to give families hope. 

"Especially this year, there is so much needed in terms of offering hope and care for the children of the world," said Knoxville's Operation Christmas Child Coordinator Vicki Humphreys. "So, we want to be those people who do that."

Even in the middle of a pandemic, local churches, schools, groups and individuals are working together to pack Christmas gifts from a distance.

"Some kids have never had a gift before. And it's so good for them to have something new," Humphreys said. "Something that's their own and they don't even have to share."

The project ends Monday, Nov. 23 and it's not too late to donate a box. 

All you have to do is grab a shoe box and decide if your gift will be for a boy or girl ages 2 to 4, 5 to 9 or 10 to 14. 

Then, you can fill it up with as many gifts or items as you can, including one 'wow gift.'

You can also include a special note or a picture in your box.

Instructions for how to pack your shoebox are available here

Then, drop off your shoebox at one  of the designated drop-off sites. 

COVID-19 is limiting the number of drop-off locations this year but Humphreys said there's at least one drop-off location in each Tennessee county.

All drop-off locations are drive-thru, so you can drop-off your boxes in a safe way. 

Volunteers at drop-off sites are also wearing gloves and masks, as well as working in small groups.

You can also build a box online on your computer, phone or tablet. 

In just a few clicks, you can select toys and other fun items.