STEPHENSON — Operation Christmas Child is a go.

The goal of this operation is to pack shoeboxes full of gifts to be given to children around the world. This week is the annual packing week event when people across the world begin collecting the shoeboxes and packing them up to be sent off.

Operation Christmas Child is a program hosted by the evangelical charity Samaritan's Purse.

The idea is to give children in third-world countries a gift of things they need (school supplies, hygiene products) as well as a few things they may want (such as toys), while they also receive a gospel message.

Jessica Suchovsky, the Operation Christmas Child drop-off coordinator for Menominee County, has been volunteering for the program for five years. She explained that the project allows children "from around the world to experience the love of God in a tangible way."

Locally, Suchovsky hopes to pack about 150 boxes.

"This is a great way to begin the giving season," she said. "You can do it with your children and grandchildren; it's a great way to teach them how to give."

Suchovsky said anyone can participate in the project, there are multiple locations throughout Menominee County that boxes can be received and dropped off. In Stephenson, the drop-off locations are Fellowship Bible Church and Kelly's Alterations. In Menominee, boxes can be picked up at Truth in Function on 10th Street.

"This is a great program, it reaches out to kids in need all over the world," Suchovsky. "This small gift may be the only gift some of these kids will ever get in their lives and it's mostly things you and I take for granted."

She said many of the items Operation Christmas Child asks for are basic hygiene products such as toothbrushes, washcloths and bar soap.

"These are such basic items, but they are treasured by the kids who receive them."

Other items that can be included in a box are toys, school supplies and accessories. When filling up a box, you can choose if it is designated for a boy or a girl and one of the following age groups: 2-4 years, 5-9 years and 10-14 years.

However, food items, liquids and glass items are not accepted for the program. A complete list of what can and cannot be donated can be found at samirtanspurse.org/occ.

A $9 donation is also requested to be included with the box to help pay for the cost of shipping.

Boxes must be dropped off at one of the three locations by Monday between 10 a.m. and noon to be used for this year's Operation Christmas Child.

A curbside dropoff is now available this year, to help minimize contact during the COVID-19 pandemic.