‘Operation Christmas Child’ recipient shares her life-changing story

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – People in Lexington have annually been part of an international Christmas project called Operation Christmas Child, which has delivered gift-filled shoeboxes to more than 146 million children in need since 1993.

One such shoebox gift reached Alina Aisina in Central Asia when she was a young girl. Aisina was in Lexington Monday to share directly how the simple gift made a life-changing impact.

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She shared her inspiring story at Consolidated Baptist Church on Russell Cave Road and told volunteers and the community how to get involved in reaching the area’s goal of packing 7.5 percent more shoeboxes than last year.

Aisina, hosted by the local project of Operation Christmas Child, will be shared her story with groups, churches and schools. Her desire is to encourage people as they kick off the upcoming collection season to fill more than 24,500 shoeboxes with fun toys, school supplies and hygiene items-contributing to the global project goal of reaching 12 million children.

While living in Central Asia, Alina Aisina received an Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift wrapped in beautiful paper. Her favorite item in the box was a pair of pink princess shoes, which she wore everywhere. The shoebox reminded Aisina her that she was not alone. Now she looks back on that day and is reminded that Christians are called to give and serve others.

During Operation Christmas Child’s National Collection Week Nov. 13 – 20, Lexington residents can drop off gift-filled shoeboxes at multiple locations across the Bluegrass Area.

For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child or to view gift suggestions, call 615-962-7145 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.

Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, 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 146 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 160 countries and territories.

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.