Note: This letter to the editor appears in the Wednesday, Jan. 2 newspaper on Page A3.

Editor, The Courier:

I am writing to thank Vinton and Jackson County residents for sharing the true meaning of Christmas with children in need this holiday season. The generosity of area residents enabled us to collect more than 2,180 shoebox gifts. These contributed to more than 24,000 hope-giving shoebox gifts packed in the Southeast Ohio team area for Operation Christmas Child, a project of international Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse.

Through shoeboxes — packed with fun toys, school supplies and hygiene supplies — Vinton and Jackson County volunteers brought smiles to the faces of children around the world affected by war, disease, disaster and famine. Each gift-filled shoebox is a tangible expression of God’s love, and it is often the first gift these children have ever received. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 157 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 160 countries and territories.

It’s not too late for people to make a difference. Although our three area drop-off locations are closed until November 2019, anyone can still be a part of this life-changing project by conveniently packing a personalized shoebox gift online at samaritanspurse.org/buildonline. Participants can also challenge others to pack boxes online with them or use a shoebox gift card to share the opportunity with friends and family. Information about year-round volunteer opportunities can also be found on the website or by calling our Great Lakes Regional Office at 937 374-0761.

Thank you again to everyone who participated in this global project — many do so year after year. These simple gifts, packed with love, send a message to children worldwide that they are loved and not forgotten.

Gaylene St. Leger Cox

Portsmouth

Operation Christmas Child, media support

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