Operation Christmas Child spreads cheer from central Illinois to across the world

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — About 7,000 gifts are heading overseas from central Illinois for children in need this holiday season.

At Northwoods Community Church in Peoria, volunteers finished the eight-day of collecting and loading Operation Christmas Child boxes.

Organizer Paul Bierma says the COVID-19 pandemic changed some protocols. Volunteers wear masks, gloves, and have created a contact-free drop-off experience.

Bierma says Northwoods is the hub for several local churches and this year it took more coordination to make it happen.

“The biggest impact to us has been the challenge of just the status of individual churches is different. Some are totally meeting together,” said Bierma.

He says the need is great this year, and Operation Christmas Child is a way for people to be generous.

“More than any other time, I’ve done this several years now, is to see the joy on children’s faces that are carrying shoeboxes into the churches that they’ve helped pack, or helped buy and pack, it’s just phenomenal. Even through a mask, you see the smile on their face,” said Bierma.

On Monday, volunteers packed the Operation Christmas Child boxes so they could head to Chicago for processing.

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