Christmas is closing in and plans are underway for the Operation Christmas Child shoebox gathering.

This Saturday at 2 p.m. at the First Southern Baptist Church in Dodge City will be the Operation Christmas Child Countdown Event located at 3106 N. 14th Ave.

"Empty shoeboxes will be packed throughout the fall with fun toys, school supplies and hygiene items collected at several area locations Nov. 13-20," said Tamra Clawson, area coordinator for Operation Christmas Child in a press release. "After hearing about a local couple's shoebox distribution trip to Togo, Africa, this past spring, there will be numerous door prizes including some of the new plastic OCC boxes that are now available to the public.

"Information, updates and Operation Christmas Child supplies will also be provided to equip volunteers to pack shoebox gifts and encourage others to do the same."

The Gathering Church will be the drop off location for the gift-filled boxes before being distributed across the globe.

"These gifts will be prepared and delivered to children in need overseas using whatever means necessary—boats, airplanes, trains and even elephants," Clawson said. "Operation Christmas Child began in 1993 and since that time, more than 146 million shoebox gifts have been delivered to children in more than 100 countries.

"I am thankful that God is able to use me in this ministry to help show and tell the community of Dodge City how they become involved in changing children's lives around the world by showing the children God's love."

Call Clawson at 620-482-3305 for more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child or visit samaritanspurse.org/occ for more information or to view gift suggestions.

"Participants can donate $9 per shoebox gift online through 'Follow Your Box' and receive a tracking label to discover its destination," Clawson said. "Those who prefer the convenience of online shopping can browse samaritanspurse.org/buildonline to select gifts matched to a child’s specific age and gender, then finish packing the virtual shoebox by adding a photo and personal note of encouragement."

To contact the writer email vmarshall@dodgeglobe.com