Volunteers hoisted box after box onto the back of the semi-trailer behind the First Christian Church.

    Every time they turned, another box was ready. Packed on top of these boxes were garbage bags full of stuffed animals to prevent shifting.

    By 2:30 p.m., the trailer was already half full. And this was already their second.


   Volunteers hoisted box after box onto the back of the semi-trailer behind the First Christian Church.
    Every time they turned, another box was ready. Packed on top of these boxes were garbage bags full of stuffed animals to prevent shifting.
    By 2:30 p.m., the trailer was already half full. And this was already their second.
    The volunteers were part of Operation Christmas Child, a charity effort from the national emergency relief organization Samaritan’s Purse that provides children across the world with a shoebox full of toys and necessities.
    Tammie West, coordinator for collections in southwest Kansas, said donations this year had already broken previous years' records. When the church acted as the collections point for the first time nine years ago, it received only a couple hundred boxes.
    Dodge's collection point receives donations from 11 other areas, including Garden City and Great Bend.
    This year, with donations still being loaded, around 8,200 boxes had been counted.
    "It's just grown," West said.
    According to the operation's Web site, the effort was a way to give needy children across the country access to toys and toiletries, along with a piece of the gospel.
    Donors were asked to determine the age and gender of the person who would receive the box, then fill the box with a variety of gifts to match.
    Justin Dewell, a 15-year-old sophomore at Dodge City High School, said he chose to volunteer by loading the boxes into the trailer Monday to feel a bit more involved. "There's a lot of people with a lot of boxes," he said. "I do well with the loading, so I figured I could help out."

    Reach Mark Vierthaler at (620) 408-9908 or e-mail him at mark.vierthaler@dodgeglobe.com.