NEW ORLEANS -- Sometimes the biggest gift in life can originate from a simple shoe box.
At least that's what they say at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Organizers are collecting shoe boxes filled with toys, school supplies, and hygiene products for a project known as "Operation Christmas Child," and they've been doing so since 2002.
"We are into our 16th year. In that time, we have collected almost a quarter of a million shoe boxes as generous people from southeast Louisiana drop them off," says Dr. Lloyd Harsch.
Each year, volunteers from around the country help fill and donate shoe boxes to Samaritan's Purse which is an organization that sends the boxes to countries around the globe affected by war, disease, and famine.
"This is a great opportunity to show the love of God to children throughout the world, especially those who are living in circumstances where life is tenuous and they don't know about tomorrow. They know that somebody loves them and cares for them," says Dr. Harsch.
Rita Hanson is a local volunteer who has traveled to Cameroon, Africa to see Operation Christmas Child fulfill its mission.
"The kids smiled and held up things. We told them what things were and we helped them play with their toys. It was really amazing," says Hanson.
She says seeing these children first hand helped her realize the true reason for the season, and that is giving to those in need and sharing the gospel of Christ.
"We have a lot of stuff in the United States. We have more stuff than we need. That's what was heavy on my heart when I came home was that I'm just surrounded by stuff that I don't need and I don't use. I should put more of my efforts into helping those who don't have anything," says Hanson.
If you are interested in filling a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child, click here for more information.
For drop off locations, click here.