CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Early Friday morning, volunteers gathered at Charlotte Douglas Airport for an airlift of hope for Syrian refugees.
The volunteers loaded a 747 cargo plane with 65,000 shoebox gifts that will be sent to the refugees who are staying in northern Iraq.
"You have to understand, when the refugees run, they run with just what they have on," said Franklin Graham, who heads Samaritan’s Purse.
Graham just returned from Iraq. He says that what saw was heartbreaking.
"To see children in bare feet walking in that cold wet mud, and to see children that had no coats, no jackets -- many of them have no idea where their parents are, their homes have been destroyed," he said.
Thousands of donations and volunteer efforts made the long flight to Iraq possible.
“Operation Christmas Child will come in and deliver a moment of hope and remind these children that they are not forgotten, that they are important as well," said Randy Riddle, the domestic director of Operation Christmas Child.
The plane is scheduled to arrive in Iraq Saturday morning and volunteers will start handing out the gifts that afternoon.
Samaritan’s Purse has been helping the refugees for months, but this shipment is for the kids. Experts say that half the refugees in the camps are children.
"These kids, they have absolutely nothing, and to be able to give them a jacket, to be able to give them shoes, to be able to give them a gift and hand it to them and say, ‘God loves you, and here's a gift from some people and families for you,’ it means everything. Again, I wish I could help them all. I can't, but we can help some," said Graham.