With this being National Volunteer Week, Limestone County residents needn't go far to find worthwhile service opportunities.

The North Alabama team of Samaritan's Purse is looking for people to join them in getting the word out about Operation Christmas Child. Headed by Franklin Graham, the international Christian relief organization encourages people to “transform empty shoeboxes into expressions of God's love by packing them with fun toys, school supplies and hygiene items.”

Since 1993, the organization has delivered more than 157 million Christmas shoeboxes to needy children in 160 countries.

Roxeanne Hill, North Alabama area coordinator, said her 26-member team needs help, especially with church and community outreach. They are also looking for a media support person.

Each year, approximately 150,000 U.S. volunteers participate in Operation Christmas Child. The organization relies on regional teams like the one in North Alabama to spread the word about the ministry and coordinate shoebox collection.

“Volunteer Week is a perfect time for people to think about what they can do to help children in need,” Hill said. “The more volunteers we have, the more boxes we collect, the more children we reach.”

The shoeboxes are designed to meet both the physical and spiritual needs of the children who receive them, according to Hill.

“Every box contains a 12-week discipleship program in their own language,” she said. “It's all about multiplication. As they open the boxes and start going through the program, they start sharing the good news of Jesus with their friends and family.”

This year, people can drop off packed shoeboxes at 13 church locations throughout North Alabama from Nov. 12–19. For a full list of churches accepting shoeboxes go to www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/drop-off-locations.

For more information about volunteering for the North Alabama team, email the area coordinator at roxannehill@gmail.com.

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