Want to Help?

What: Operation Christmas Child

Donations: Shoe boxes full of items can be dropped off at Calvary Chapel, 6925 E. Main St. in Farmington, or they can be sent to Samaritan s Purse Operation Christmas Child, 801 Bamboo Road, Boone, NC 28607

Information: Contact Vickie Czlapinski at 505-787-9958 or email Darold_vickie@yahoo.com. Information on how to prepare and send donation boxes is available at www.samaritanspurse.org.

FARMINGTON — Most San Juan County children who are heading back to school have been able to gather the notebooks, pencils and other supplies they will need throughout the year. And for those who cannot afford to purchase these supplies, there are usually resources available to help.

Children in many other countries, however, often go without supplies because there is no assistance available. For those children, a lack of basic supplies can make the difference in whether or not they are able to attend school.

Operation Christmas Child, a project of the faith-based organization Samaritan's Purse, works year-round to help children in poverty around the globe. Volunteers pack shoeboxes with needed items such as toys, hygiene products and notes of encouragement. The boxes are then shipped to countries like Puerto Rico and Mexico for distribution to the impoverished children.

Vickie Czlapinski, the coordinator for Operation Christmas Child's Four Corners region, is encouraging people to consider helping these children as they purchase school supplies for their own children.

"It's a good time of year to buy school supplies because they're available everywhere, and they're not as expensive now," Czlapinski said.

Those who want to collect school supply donations can organize a "packing party" through a church or community organization, or they can send boxes directly to Operation Christmas Child.

Calvary Chapel in Farmington is currently collecting shoebox donations for eventual shipment abroad, Czlapinski said.

Donated items should not include liquids, and items with messages should be positive.

"It is such a blessing to help change a child's life just by sending a shoe box filled with items they may like and need," said Czlapinski. "My husband and I like to shop the back-to-school section and stock up on notebooks, pens, pencils, solar calculators and so much more. We are thrilled to be able to buy these items for children who may not otherwise go to school."

Leigh Black Irvin covers health for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4610 and lirvin@daily-times.com Follow her @irvindailytimes on Twitter.