Operation Christmas Child kick-off event

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Anyone is welcome to attend an informational meeting Saturday, Sept. 21 to learn more about the mission.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – It’s almost that time of year where people around the country pack shoeboxes to help kids in need. It’s called Operation Christmas Child and it’s a project through Samaritan’s Purse.

“Operation Christmas Child wants to demonstrate God’s love for children in need all around the world,” said Clint Fields.

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Fields says they do this through packing parties where volunteers gather to fill shoeboxes with hygiene items, school supplies, toys and a personalized letter. Volunteers then ship those boxes to more than 100 countries around the world.

Jaki Steward received one of those boxes when she was a little girl living in an orphanage in Guatemala.

“Growing up in this home we never had anything to call ours. But the day we received our shoebox, I realized that whatever this box contained, whatever this gift was, it was just mine,” said Steward.

Steward says that love from a stranger changed her life.

“Before the shoebox I had to share one toothbrush with 10 other girls,” said Steward.

Steward now travels as a spokesperson for Operation Christmas Child, sharing the impact that one shoebox had on her.

Anyone is welcome to attend an informational meeting Saturday, Sept. 21 to learn more about the mission.

Organizers say they’ll be in Lexington at the Anchor Baptist Church located at 3601 Winthrop Drive at 6 p.m. as well as the Cynthiana Baptist Church at 212 E. Pleasant Street at 2 p.m.

Fields says they plan to hold packing parties later this year to actually stuff the shoeboxes and will need plenty of volunteers.

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Erica joins the ABC 36 family as a Co-Anchor of Good Morning Kentucky weekday mornings from 5am-7am with Cody Adams and Good Day Kentucky weekday mornings from 9am to 10am. Erica also anchors News at Midday from 12-12:30pm. She is also a Web and Social Media Content Producer. Erica graduated in three and a half years from Michigan State University with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism and specialization in Women, Gender and Social Justice. Although she hails from Michigan, Erica has worked as a News Reporter/Sports Anchor for the CBS-affiliate in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Prior to that, she worked for a PBS-affiliate there covering all types of news – even providing live reports for The Weather Channel during her first hurricane. She then moved to Lake Charles, Louisiana and worked as the Weekend Anchor/Reporter at KPLC, the NBC/FOX/CW affiliate. Erica comes to Lexington from the Huntington area where she worked at WSAZ, an NBC/CW affiliate in West Virginia, as a weekday evening anchor covering the tri states of Ohio and Kentucky as well. In addition to her background on TV, Erica has worked in radio, served as the PA announcer for the Class A "Lansing Lugnuts" and hosted Carnival parades in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Some of her favorite hobbies include running, reading, hiking, spending time with her husband and taking pictures of their furbabies. Erica is big on community involvement, having served as a board member for Dress for Success, volunteered as a Big with Big Brothers Big Sisters, worked on the Mayor's Armed Forces Commission in Lake Charles and hosted countless events. She hopes you can connect with her on Facebook: EricaBivensTV and on Twitter: @ericabivens or Instagram: erica.bivens. You can also email her at ebivens@wtvq.com. Please send all event inquiries via email. Erica is excited to explore Lexington and the outdoors and - of course - meet all of you!