'Operation Christmas Child' Kicks Off In Northeastern Oklahoma

Sunday, September 23rd 2012, 9:11 pm
By: News On 6

"Operation Christmas Child" –- a project of international relief organization Samaritan's Purse -- kicked off its collection season on Sunday.

Lane Linker is a Bixby High School student and was the featured speaker at Operation Christmas Child's countdown event.

The group is rallying others in Northeastern Oklahoma to join its mission.

It gathers shoe boxes filled with all kinds of things like toys, school supplies and basic necessities.

Linker started doing this when he was a nine years old.

He's now 16 and over the summer, was able to take the opportunity of a lifetime -- he traveled to Mongolia to see all of his hard work pay off.

"We got to give out about 700 shoe boxes," Linker said. "It was very eye-opening and made me feel like I should appreciate what I have over here and not ask for so much stuff."

There's a particular moment that really touched Linker's heart while he was in Mongolia.

It happened at this place, he says, people go to dump their kids, hoping someone else will take them in.

"This little boy ran up to me and started tugging on my shirt and I picked him up and we were attached at the hip for an hour or two and when he was walking off, he was crying because I had to go," Linker said.

Phil Blotevogel is the man who introduced Linker to Operation Christmas Child.

He said this project is unique because you don't have to be a big person to have a huge impact on others.

"When you're packing one of these shoe box gifts, you're actually packing a shoe box full of love to give to a needy child somewhere in the world," Blotevogel said.

Operation Christmas Child ships shoe box gifts to more than 100 countries across the globe.

Operation Christmas Child's National Collection Week is Nov. 12-19.

The Northeastern Oklahoma team hopes to send three semis full of shoe boxes overseas.

If you'd like to get involved, visit the Samaritan's Purse website by clicking here.