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Pay It Forward: Moline church ships Christmas gifts to children in poor countries

The project is called Operation Christmas Child which includes packing a number of items into shoeboxes before being shipped to children in poor countries.

MOLINE, Ill — One project in the Quad Cities is providing children in other countries with gifts on Christmas morning.

Community Christian Fellowship church in Moline has been running a Christmas project for 20 years. 

The project is called Operation Christmas Child which includes packing a number of items into shoeboxes before being shipped to children in poor countries.

"This is going to be a box for a girl, 5 to 9 years old," organizer Kim Roach said.

Each item is donated throughout the year leading up to packaging the boxes.

"Lord God, what do you want me to put in this box?" Kim said.

Organizers increase the amount of boxes delivered to countries every year.

"He'll like that," Kim said. 

A variety of supplies are laid out onto multiple tables to choose for each child.

"This first row here are the essentials," Kim said. "Pencils, some erasers."

The hope is each shoebox will contain important needs in life.

"Scissors, toothbrush," Kim said. "I can't fit a whole lot more in here."

Children in poverty-stricken countries see each gift as one-of-a-kind.

"Some of them have never received a gift in their life," Kim said.

Organizers are creative with preparing the presents, which includes sewing.

"I've been making a lot of shorts for boys," organizer Denise Builta said.

Group members spent one week packing each shoebox.

"It means the world to a little kid on the other side of the world who has nothing," Joe Roach said.

"It's just a group effort," organizer Patty Knudsen said.

A child only receives one gift from the program every year.

"Thank you so much for nominating Kim, Patty and Denise for the pay it forward," Travis Kershaw with Ascentra Credit Union said to the nominator. "This time of year, it's important to be the light to those who need it the most and what they're doing really exemplifies the listening, caring and doing what's right philosophy that we believe in at Ascentra Credit Union. So that's why we're excited to give you $300, so you can pay it forward to them."

"On behalf of WQAD and Ascentra Credit Union, I would like to pay this $300 forward to Patty, Kim and Denise, for all your dedication to Operation Christmas Child," pay it forward nominator Tonya Campbell said.

Organizers set a goal of 600 boxes for Christmas 2021.

"I cry, it breaks my heart," Joe said. 

Operation Christmas Child is part of the organization Samaritan Purse.

For more on the project and how to donate, click here.

If you know someone you'd like to nominate for the Pay It Forward Award, click here.