ROCKFORD, Mich., — Christmas is something 17-year-old Kylie Wells prepares for all year-long. She’s constantly collecting small items and toys to pack in hundreds of shoe boxes as part of “Operation Christmas Child”.
“I’ve seen firsthand how much joy I can help bring to these children, and that’s why I like to do it,” Wells told FOX 17 News. “It’s really simple, but the impact it makes is so great.”
Operation Christmas Child is touted as the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind. It’s an outreach program of Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse. Since 1993, more than 100 million gift-filled shoe boxes have been distributed to needy kids in more than 130 countries.
“In West Michigan, our boxes have gone to Madagascar, to Iraq, Uganda, to Sudan, so it’s neat to see all the different countries that they arrive at,” said Jennie Nichols, a Church Relations Coordinator for Operation Christmas Child. “The boxes don’t reach all the children by Christmas time because it’s such a huge feat to get them all around the world, but whenever they get the boxes, it’s Christmas for them.”
Wells, a senior at Cedar Springs High School, has been involved with Operation Christmas Child since the second grade. Over the years, she’s managed to collect enough items to pack and send more than 420 boxes.
At the age of 16, Wells was also selected to travel to Mongolia to personally deliver the boxes to hundreds of kids. She was one of 21 youth selected by Samaritan’s Purse, after submitting a video and written application.
“There was just like a indescribable joy in the children’s faces,” explained Wells. “It was the most amazing experience in my life.”
The teen has already reached her goal of packing 140 boxes this year.
National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child runs through November 25th.
For more information on how to donate or to find your nearest drop-off location, call 616-550-0337, visit samaritanspurse.org OR click here.
Boxes can also be filled and paid for online.