For more than a decade, East Texas residents have been a part of the Samaritan’s Purse project Operation Christmas Child, which helps millions of children in need through gift-filled shoeboxes.

Alex Nsengimana, who received a shoebox gift as an orphan during the height of Rwanda’s genocide, is coming to Longview on Wednesday, Aug. 28, to share how this gift, just like those packed here locally, changed his life.

Nsengimana received an Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift while living in Rwanda. This simple gift was so much more than just a box filled with toys and school supplies. It was a powerful reminder that God loved him and he was not forgotten. Nsengimana is now passionate about sharing this same hope with millions of people like himself.

Nsengimana is encouraging the community to continue giving generously. This year, volunteers from the five-county area which makes up the Sabine River Area hope to collect more than 15,651 shoeboxes packed with toys, school supplies and hygiene items to contribute toward the global goal of reaching 11 million children.

Additionally, Nsengimana will also be speaking at Kilgore College’s “Party in the Plaza” Event at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27, on the KC campus. He will share his story again at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 28, at Calvary Baptist Church, 4715 Tenneryville Road, in Longview.

Nsengimana experienced first-hand the travesties of his nation’s genocide. At the height of tribal unrest, the genocide claimed the lives of his caregivers. Fleeing for his life, Nsengimana escaped gunmen and eventually ended up in an orphanage that was his home for the next several years. When he received a shoebox from Operation Christmas Child one year after arriving at the orphanage, he recalled the excitement of having a gift of his own. This shoebox gift sowed seeds of hope and love, showing him that God had a specific plan for his life. He now serves with Operation Christmas Child, encouraging others to share the hope and love he received through a shoebox gift.

During Operation Christmas Child’s National Collection Week Nov. 18 – 25, East Texas residents can drop off gift-filled shoeboxes at multiple locations across the Sabine River Area, which includes locations in Gregg, Harrison, Upshur, Panola counties, as well as Kilgore.

For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, call 903-790-1290, or visit samaritanspurse.org/occ.

Participants can donate $9 per shoebox gift online through “Follow Your Box” and receive a tracking label to discover its destination. Those who prefer the convenience of online shopping can browse samaritanspurse.org/buildonline to select gifts matched to a child’s specific age and gender, then finish packing the virtual shoebox by adding a photo and personal note of encouragement.

Samaritan’s Purse is an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 168 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 160 countries and territories.

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