Although a team of volunteers have been diligently on Operation Christmas Child, as the holidays approach, the group kicks into high gear.

“We are a team of year-round volunteers, but November is when all the big fun happens,” said Deanna Gusk, Operation Christmas Child Community Relations Coordinator for the East Central Region. The team has been meeting weekly at New Hope Community Church in Isanti, making crafts, packaging school supplies and creating hygiene kits, all to prepare for National Collection Week.   Nov. 15 through Nov. 21 is the nationwide, large-scale event when OCC volunteers gather packed shoeboxes to send to impoverished children in over 170 countries around the world.

To kick off Collection Week, a shoebox-packing party will take place starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 13, at New Hope Community Church in Cambridge, 33030 Vickers Street NE. “We have a huge goal of 1,000 packed boxes that day, and packing will continue until all supplies are exhausted,” Gusk said. “It’s a blast.”

Volunteers are needed to help with the packing, as are donations such as toys, balls, stuffed animals, dolls and children’s clothing. Financial contributions for shipping costs are welcome. 

New Hope Community Church in Cambridge will be collecting packed boxes on Nov. 15 from 8 to 10 a.m., Nov. 16 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Nov. 17 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Nov. 18 from 8 to 10 a.m., Nov. 19 from 4 to 6 p.m., Nov. 20  from 11 a.m.  to 3 p.m., Nov. 21 from 1 to 4 p.m. and Nov. 22  from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.   

Operation Christmas Child operates under the auspices of Samaritan’s Purse International Relief, which partners with local churches worldwide. According to the Samaritan’s Purse website, more than 9 million shoebox gifts were collected. To learn more about Operation Christmas Child, visit

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