Christmas is arriving early in Oro Valley, as Casas Church prepares to serve as a collection point for Operation Christmas Child next week.

Through Operation Christmas Child, identified as "the world's largest Christmas project," Oro Valley residents can help send shoe boxes filled with gifts to more than eight million children in 100 countries suffering from natural disaster, war, terrorism, disease, famine and poverty.

Shoe boxes can be filled with school supplies, toys, necessity items, hard candy and a letter of encouragement.

Last year, Oro Valley area residents contributed 2,941 items to the Operation Christmas Child effort. This year, organizers hope to collect more than 4,000 gift-filled shoe boxes from families, kids, churches, schools and civic organizations.

The church is collecting items at 10801 N. La Cholla Blvd., Oro Valley. National Collection Week is Nov. 15-22. Donations are accepted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. The phone number is 297-7238.

Operation Christmas Child uses tracking technology that allows donors to "follow your box" to the destination country, where it will be hand-delivered to a child in need. To register shoe box gifts and find out what country they are delivered to, use the EZ Give donation form found at www.samaritanspurse.org.

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