The spirit of Christmas paid an early visit this year to a select group of teenagers, including a Liberty University student who traveled to Bolivia July 17-25 as a volunteer with Operation Christmas Child.
Kelsey Willis, 17, saw first-hand the results of a project she is passionate about and has worked hard to promote. For 15 years, Willis and her family have packed shoe box gifts for the Samaritan’s Purse project, Operation Christmas Child. She and her family have also served as volunteers in the Boone processing center.
“It was a really great experience. I was able to see God work in ways that we hadn’t expected,” Willis said. “It wasn’t always easy, but it was definitely a lot of fun.”
Serving in and around La Paz, Bolivia, a city of more than 2 million people, Willis and 19 other youth from the United States distributed over 600 gifts to needy children in the towns of Isla de Patapatani, Panpachiliya, Puerto Perez, Tacanoca and Cachilaya. The team also helped with church construction and a livestock program, immunizing llamas and alpacas.
Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has hand delivered more than 77 million shoe box gifts packed with school supplies, hygiene items and toys to children living in desperate situations around the world. A project of the international relief organization, Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Christmas Child is the world’s largest Christmas project.
For more information about Kelsey Willis’s participation in the Samaritan’s Purse Youth team trip, please call 828-262-1980. For more information about Operation Christmas child, call 800-353-5949 or visit www.samaritanspurse.org/occ. National Collection Week is Nov. 15-22, 2010; however, shoe box gifts can be sent year-round to Samaritan’s Purse headquarters in Boone, N.C.