Bright Spot: Volunteers give back through Operation Christmas Child

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It's that time of year when people are looking for ways to give back.

The Christian organization, Samaritan's Purse gives people in the Mid-South an opportunity to reach out to children all around the world from right here in Memphis.

It's been a busy few weeks at Hope Church for volunteers.

They're filling and packing the shoe boxes that will be sent to children around the world as part of Operation Christmas Child.

"We've got churches, small churches, that will pack 500 to 600 shoe boxes,"

This is the fourth years that Hope Church has served as the drop off point. All year long members of churches in six Tennessee counties collect the items that are needed.

Gary Adams has been volunteering with Samaritan's Purse for 15 years. He's been on many mission trips and knows first-hand how important the school supplies are to the children receiving them.

"I found kids in Africa where they don't even get to go to school unless they have paper and pencils that day," he said.

Sometimes the smallest gifts in the shoe boxes make the biggest difference for the children.

"I met a girl who was from Guatemala and she's now here in the U.S. She said she lived in an orphanage up until she was 10-years-old. She was in a room with 12 other girls and they shared a toothbrush. When she got her shoe box you know what was in it," Adams said.

Operation Christmas Child isn't just about sharing material gifts.

It's also a chance for volunteers to share the gospel.

"We're trying to follow the great commission and go out and tell everyone about Jesus Christ," Adams said.

When the children receive their boxes, they attend a church service.

"They'll sing songs, they'll do skits and the pastor will have a chance to have a message with the kids," he said.

There's also a 12 week discipleship program for the children where they receive another valuable gift - a new testament bible.

This week, 30,000 shoe boxes were loaded onto trailers for their journey to change children's lives around the world.