CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Christmas is just days away, and while many kids will be getting toys, there are also many kids who are not as fortunate.
That's where Operation Christmas Child comes in -- delivering gifts to more than 100 countries.
In its 26th year, the project has helped deliver 168 million gifts to kids all across the world.
"Operation Christmas Child demonstrates God's love in a tangible way. We collect gifts, shoeboxes full of items, all over the country. They go to kids who have never received a gift before," said Julie Smith, volunteer area coordinator.
Operation Christmas Child is a project run by Samaritan's Purse. Charlotte has one of eight processing centers in the U.S. where volunteers come to pack the shoeboxes.
"People come from all over the place. Up and down the East Coast, from Ohio, from Texas."
While NBC Charlotte visited, one high school from Ohio was making its 20th annual trip to volunteer.
"We did some research and found Samaritan's Purse was right on target," said volunteer Gary Kirkpatrick.
"I love going through all the boxes and seeing what people have put in it. And to see everything that people have put in it," said volunteer Emily Duty.
People begin collecting donations at the beginning of the year then bring their shoebox to the processing center. The boxes can be filled with toys and hygiene items that kids in less fortunate countries will need.
"We really try to keep the integrity of the shoebox. We want what you packed to get to the child."
If you can't make it into the actual processing center, you can donate a box online.
"If you donate online, you can get a label called Follow Box. You'll get a QR code so you can see what country your box goes to."
Before the boxes are shipped off, they are prayed over by all the volunteers at the processing center.
"To know you're making a difference in a child's life who may have never received a gift before is very heartwarming. A great sense of pride."
Once they're ready, the boxes go to 100 countries across the world. This year, the focus is mostly in Peru, Columbia, and Burundi.
"They'll be taken by plane, boat, camel, canoe, whatever means necessary to get to the county and children."
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