East Tennesseans help kids all over the world celebrate Christmas

Operation Christmas Child, an international effort, gives Christmas presents to kids in underserved countries.
Operation Christmas Child, an international effort, gives Christmas presents to kids in underserved countries
Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 10:45 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - For a lot of kids, opening presents on Christmas is the best part of the year. But for other children, gifts are a luxury they don’t get.

Hundreds of volunteers across East Tennessee are making sure kids around the world can feel that excitement too.

“Being able to provide hope to a child who is in a difficult situation is one of the best things that you can do,” said Vicki Humphreys, Area Coordinator for Operation Christmas Child.

It’s part of an international effort called Operation Christmas Child. Last year, the Knoxville area alone donated more than 53,000 shoeboxes.

Each shoebox is filled with small toys and other necessities like toothbrushes and soap.

The shoeboxes are then shipped off to children in more than 100 countries.

Monday was the final drop-off day for Knoxville locations. The donations came in from groups and churches in the area.

Waddell helps gather and pack shoeboxes. In 2019, he also delivered presents to Guyana, a country in South America.

“Most of these kids, they will never receive a Christmas present if it wasn’t for these shoeboxes,” said James Waddell Children’s Pastor for Salem Baptist Church in Knoxville. “And the facial expression of some of these kids when they would open them up, and it would just be tears of joy.”

Humphreys said Knoxville’s goal this year is to donate 57,001 shoeboxes, the extra one serves as a reminder that each shoebox matters.

“It makes a true difference to a child on the other side of the globe that will probably never receive another one,” Waddell said.

This year’s international goal for Operation Christmas Child is 11,000,000 shoeboxes.

It’s not too late to donate either. It is a year-round effort. If you want to get a child gifts for Christmas, you can visit the operation’s website. to get started.