Christmas is arriving early in Brazil as Union United Methodist Church is preparing to serve as a collection point for Operation Christmas Child.
Soon, with the help of local volunteers, the site will be brimming with festively wrapped shoeboxes full of gifts.
Through Operation Christmas Child, the world's largest Christmas project, Brazil residents are helping send shoe box gifts this year to more than 8 million children in 100 countries suffering from natural disaster, war, terrorism, disease, famine and poverty.
From Brazil, the gifts will be sorted and sent using whatever means necessary -- sea containers, trucks, trains, airplanes, boats, camels, even dog sleds -- to reach suffering children around the world.
Operation Christmas Child uses tracking technology that allows donors to "follow your box," to the destination country where it will be hand-delivered to a child in need.
To register shoebox gifts and find out what country they are delivered to, use the EZ Give donation form at www.samaritanspurse.org.
Those interested in dropping off gifts at the church may do s0 from 6-8 p.m., Monday-Friday; 1-6 p.m., Saturdays; and 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Sundays.
National Collection Week this year is Nov. 15-22.
This year, organizers hope to collect more than 1,000 gift-filled shoeboxes from families, children, churches, schools and civic organizations in the area.
Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child, a project of international Christian relief and evangelism organization Samaritan's Purse, headed by Franklin Graham, has delivered more than 77 million gift-filled shoeboxes to needy children in approximately 130 countries.
Step-by-step shoebox packing instructions may be accessed at www.samaritanspurse.org.