SOMERS, N.Y. - Outside of the tiny Affirmation Presbyterian Church in Somers, it was cold, rainy and gray. But inside, the atmosphere was warm and festive as members of the congregation, representatives from the town and a host of volunteers all gathered together on Monday for the ribbon cutting ceremony that kicked off the collection week for Operation Christmas Child.

Sponsored by the Christian aid organization Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Christmas Child is a yearly effort that gathers together more than 80,000 churches from around the country. For one week in November, volunteers pack shoeboxes with assorted gifts and then distribute them to needy children and families in more than 120 countries.

Over the course of the next week, volunteers will work in shifts, receiving boxes and packing them onto the truck. From there, they’ll make their way to a collection center in Baltimore, where they’ll be individually inspected before making their overseas journey.

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