7@Four: Operation Christmas Child

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SALEM, Va. (WDBJ7) -- Have you heard of the shoebox drive, otherwise known as Operation Christmas Child? Monday was the day when months of work and thousands of donations from all over our region come together at one big collection center.

At the Salem Baptist Church, an elves workshop if you will, shoeboxes were filled for children around the world -- over 150 countries to be more precise.

But, it's not just toys going into the boxes.

"Hot wheels cars, we put some little hats and gloves inside.", says Heather Case. "We also put things into the shoeboxes like washcloths, soap, and school supplies -- many things that we take for granted".

This project started 17 years ago and continues to grow. Churches from the Roanoke Valley and Alleghany Highlands pitch in and collect and fill show boxes for months. Individuals also help, including children.

"A little girl who was probably 10 or 12 years old brought in 20 boxes herself for a little girl.", says Cindy Markham. To take the time out to do that was very special".

Virginia State Police Troopers took the day off to be a part of this -- trading the patrol car for shoebox patrol. They loaded 700 cartons onto tractor trailers.

While others are going through the list and checking it twice, the boxes pile up and so do the stories of giving.

"It warms your heart to know there are so many people in the world that wants to make a difference in these children's lives that are in other countries.", says Markham.

"I know we never actually see the children open the boxes, but the joy you get personally putting items in there and knowing it's going to bring someone a lot of excitement feels really good.", Case added.