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While you’re shopping for Halloween treats for your favorite little goblins, consider buying some small gifts for a faraway child in need. This week, Operation Christmas Child announced the drop-off dates and locations for its annual campaign that collects shoeboxes filled with small toys, school supplies and hygiene items for children around the world.

Many churches in western South Dakota participate in Operation Christmas Child; Rapid City, Sturgis, Hot Springs, Kadoka and Belle Fourche have official collection site locations for the shoeboxes, as well. The collection sites will accept filled shoeboxes from Nov. 18-Nov. 25.

In Rapid City, The Foundry church is a collection site, as is Dove Christian Center. Dove has official empty Operation Christmas Child boxes available now for people to take and fill. The empty boxes are free and can be picked up at Dove Christian Center during its business hours, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

“We’ve given out over 2,000 boxes already in Rapid City. I have another 5,000 or 6,000 boxes we could give out if people are looking for boxes,” said Nancy Morrison, collections center coordinator and children’s pastor at Dove Christian Center.

Candy, toothpaste and anything liquid cannot be included in the shoeboxes, Morrison said. School supplies, toiletries, toothbrushes, soap and age-appropriate toys are encouraged.

“We’ve heard that often where the boxes go are the most impoverished areas of the world, so children don’t own a washcloth or their own pair of shoes or a toothbrush. Items like that are really appreciated. They are a gift beyond measure in areas where these are going,” Morrison said.

Boxes are particularly needed for 2- and 3-year-olds and for the oldest children served, ages 12 to 14. For older children, especially boys, school supplies, shoes and general work tools, fishing line and fishing hooks are helpful, Morrison said. Younger children, especially 2-year-olds, can benefit from baby blankets, toddler toys and stuffed animals.

“If people have extra items after they’re done packing boxes, we can accept donations of loose items that can be added at the distribution center in case a box isn’t quite full,” Morrison said.

Filler items are in demand and can include pencils, wipes, sanitary napkins, clothing, school supplies and toiletries, she said.

Each box needs to include a $9 donation, a label indicating the age of the child for which the box is appropriate, and whether the box is for a boy or a girl. Online options this year let shoebox donors track where their boxes go and even let people “pack” a shoebox online. For more information, go to samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/pack-a-shoe-box/

Dove Christian Center is seeking volunteers to help load filled shoeboxes onto a semi for transport to the distribution center. Volunteers are needed from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 25. Morrison estimates between 5,000 and 6,000 boxes will put on the truck that day.

This year, Operation Christmas Child’s goal is for western South Dakota to provide at least 6,500 filled shoeboxes, according to Gia Moser, regional director for the upper Midwest region of Operation Christmas Child. Though other nations including Australia, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom supply some shoeboxes, the United States typically provides 9.1 million of the 11 million shoeboxes that are filled and distributed worldwide, she said.

Black Hills area collection sites will accept filled shoeboxes at these dates and times:

Dove Christian Center

1213 Harmony Heights Lane

Rapid City, SD 57701-0319

Times to drop off donations: 2-7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18-Friday, Nov. 22; noon-2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23-Sunday, Nov. 24; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 25.

The Foundry

730 Quincy St.

Rapid City, SD 57701-3632

Times to drop off donations: Noon-2 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18; 4-7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19-Wednesday, Nov. 20; 10 a.m.-noon Thursday, Nov. 21-Friday, Nov. 22; noon-4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23-Monday, Nov. 25

Summit Open Bible Church

1846 8th Ave.

Belle Fourche, SD 57717-2056

Times to drop off donations: 5-8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18-Monday, Nov. 25.

Southern Hills E-Free Church

1509 University Ave.

Hot Springs, SD 57747-2213

Times to drop off donations: 10 a.m.-noon Monday, Nov. 18-Thursday, Nov. 21; 4-6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21; 9 a.m.-noon and 4-6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22; noon-4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23; 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 24; 10 a.m.-noon Monday, Nov. 25.

Kadoka Presbyterian Church

925 6th Ave.

Kadoka, SD 57543

Times to drop off donations: Noon to 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18-Sunday, Nov. 24; 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Monday, Nov. 25.

Life Spring Wesleyan Church

1638 Junction Ave.

Sturgis, SD 57785-2125

Times to drop off donations: 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18, Tuesday, Nov. 19, Thursday, Nov. 21, Friday, Nov. 22; 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20; 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23-Sunday, Nov. 24; 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday, Nov. 25.

Giving closer to home

Whether you can sponsor an entire family’s holiday dinner or give something as simple as a pair of socks, there are many ways to give to Black Hills area residents in need. Check with your favorite local charity, school, church or organization to find out how you can make the holidays brighter for a child, senior citizen or family in need.

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