CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Operation Christmas Child is celebrating 25 years of delivering shoe boxes full of gifts to needy children around the world.
They hope to collect enough items to reach 11 million children, with about 2.5 million gifts being processed right here in Charlotte.
She could be just another of the millions of volunteers, but Dania Yadago’s story starts years ago growing up in the Middle East.
“My family was in severe poverty," Yadago said. "My dad worked so hard to provide for us but it was very difficult simple daily food.”
She didn’t expect Christmas presents, but one year her prayers were answered by a simple shoe box filled with toys, hygiene items and her biggest wish, a radio.
“I had this joy, hope that even in the midst of poverty God will take care of us,” she said.
That's what Operation Christmas Child does for millions of children every year.
“Stories like Dania’s we just really believe that that is the hand of God at work,” Regional Director Lindsay Wooten said.
It's also the work of volunteers from across the country.
“We’re from Toledo, Ohio and I think this is our 5th or 6th time,” volunteer Jon said.
More than 30,000 volunteers come here to the Charlotte processing center where they work in this assembly line, preparing shoe boxes to be sent to children around the world.
“These shoe boxes when they get into the hand of a child can be so personal," Wooten said.
Once people drop off the shoe boxes full of items, they’re inspected, taped and ready for the mail.
Yadago now serves full time, hoping to do for others what was done for her.
“Maybe the boxes that I’ll be packing will be the next prayer waiting to be answered," she said.
Operation Christmas Child is accepting donations until December 15th. You can drop off a shoe box full of hygiene items, toys and school supplies, or you can drop off any of those items to be used as “filler items.”