Churches prepare Operation Christmas Child gifts amid COVID-19

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Christmas may be a couple months away but one holiday tradition is already underway.

Northwoods Community Church in Peoria started packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child Wednesday morning.

The program has been around for nearly 30 years with a goal of trying to reach children who don’t normally receive gifts.

There are roughly 250 churches in Central Illinois that participate annually, but COVID-19 causing many churches to remain closed has caused some concern.

However, OCC area coordinator Paul Bierma says they’ve come up with some solutions to keep those involved safe while still keeping this tradition alive.

“There’s no doubt there will be a challenge that way, but we do have these options like the virtual builds and the curbside drop-off that will make it Covid safe and we do have an active Covid policy,” he said. “A curbside drop-off, not pickup but a drop-off, where people can stay in their cars and we’ll have a team of folks empty their minivan and put them in cartons to minimize contact.”

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