Operation Christmas Child: North Dakota Kids Excited About Givi - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Operation Christmas Child: North Dakota Kids Excited About Giving

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A Christmas charity that's been gift-giving around the world for 20 years -- with shoe boxes:  How a local church, and its teens, are involved.

  "It's something that actually rocks their world, because a lot of these kids have nothing," says Jeremy Oakland, Student Ministries Pastor, First Evangelical Free Church, Bismarck.

Since 1993, more than 100 million children in over 130 countries have received shoe box gifts from Operation Christmas Child.  "I wish I could see their faces when they open our boxes," says Annika Syvrud, Bismarck State College.

It's a ministry of Billy Graham's son, Franklin, reaching round the world -- and right here in North Dakota.  The organization works with local churches to deliver the gifts and share the Gospel.  "Coming together and packing these boxes for these kids is an awesome experience," says Annika.

First Evangelical Free Church is the go to place for all of Western North Dakota. Shoe boxes collected here in Bismarck will go to Zambia, India and Kenya.  "Sending those Christmas Child boxes, they know that Jesus loves them, and that's from Him and He cares about them," says Kayla Wentz, Mandan.

Last year, nearly 9,000 shoe boxes came through First Evangelical Free.  This year, teens at the church took an offering to purchase gift items for the boxes so they could throw a packing party.  Some write personal notes.  "We send pictures of the family so they know that these are the people who care about them," says Kayla.

From here, the shoe boxes journey to Minneapolis -- before traveling round the world.  "One of the things as being a follower of Christ, we want to give and we want to help other people.  We've been given so much," says Pastor Oakland.

For this Bismarck church, they're happy to pack shoe boxes, but they're happier to send them off. 

Operation Christmas Child says if you stacked all 100 million boxes given over the last 20 years, they'd be 26,000 times higher than the Empire State Building!  

If you'd still like to get involved this year, you only have a few days.  Contact First Evangelical Free Church at 701-223-3330 for information -- and a shoe box.


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