(WTVM) - Local churches are getting into the holiday giving spirit early.
Volunteers and organizers at Lakewood Baptist Church in Phenix City held a kickoff event Tuesday night for Operation Christmas Child.
The idea is to fill shoeboxes with school supplies, small toys, hygiene items, and hard candy, and ship them to pastors and leaders in more than 100 countries to be distributed to children there.
"Receiving a shoebox gift is incredible for these children because a majority of them have never received a gift in their life," said Gabe Walker. "Most of them have never had anything they can claim as theirs."
Last year, people in the Chattahoochee Valley helped send more than 14,000 shoeboxes to children around the world. The goal is even higher this year.
Churches in Columbus, Opelika, Auburn, LaGrange, and Valley are also taking part in Operation Christmas Child.