Operation Christmas Child is in full swing in Reynoldsburg and many other communities as volunteers prepare shoeboxes of toys to distribute to needy children all over the world.
Reynoldsburg's target for the toy collection is 40,600 gift-filled shoeboxes, said Brittany Smith, media relations associate.
People may drop off shoeboxes filled with new toys, school supplies and hygiene items between Nov. 12 and Nov. 19 at several collection sites. Individual items not in shoeboxes may also be delivered to the sites.
Smith said Operation Christmas Child is the world's largest Christmas project of its kind. It is is organized by Samaritan's Purse, an international Christian relief program headed by Franklin Graham.
"Anyone can drop off a packed box of gifts at a collection site," Smith said. "Then, using whatever means necessary -- trucks, trains, boats, bikes and even elephants -- the shoebox gifts will be hand-delivered to needy children in 100 countries around the world."
Smith said individual toys or items that are not packed in a shoebox will be taken to processing centers and added to boxes that might need a few more gifts.
"As for shoebox size -- just any standard shoebox you might get a pair of running shoes or heels in," she said. "There are also plastic shoebox size containers at Walmart and Target that many people pack as well."
She said recommended items are listed online at samaritanspurse.org.
"Many people put in toiletry items, like a toothbrush and toothpaste, washcloth, notebooks, pens, pencils, stuffed animals and stickers," she said. "As long as it isn't a liquid or war-related, shoebox packers can be creative with items they put in.
"Socks and winter hats are also very useful," Smith added. "Anything bright and fun that a child would enjoy, especially a child that might not have ever received a Christmas gift, is a good way to look at it when packing your box."
Reynoldsburg-area residents can bring donations to New Song Community Church, 13873 National Road SW, Reynoldsburg.
Collection times are:
* 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 12.
* 4 to 7 p.m. Nov. 13.
* 4 to 6 p.m. Nov. 14.
* noon to 2 p.m. Nov. 15.
* 2 to 4 p.m. Nov. 16.
* 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 17.
* 1:30 to 6:30 p.m. Nov. 18.
* 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 19.
Other area collection sites are:
* Girgis Chiropractic, 383 W. Main St., Westerville.
* Pickerington Christian Church, 575 Diley Road, Pickerington.
* Upper Arlington Lutheran Church's Mill Run campus, 3500 Mill Run Drive, Hilliard.
* Shekinah Christian School, 10040 Lafayette Plain City Road, Plain City.
Additional collection sites may be found using an online ZIP code locator at samaritanspurse.org.
Smith said Operation Christmas Child expects to reach a milestone in 2012 -- collecting and delivering shoeboxes to more than 100 million children since 1993.
"So far, Operation Christmas Child has collected more than 94 million shoebox gifts and hand-delivered them to children in 130 countries," she said.
She said participants can even "follow" their boxes to the destination country by registering shoebox gifts with an online donation form found online at samaritanspurse.org.