This time of year, Santa's helpers are spreading holiday joy all across the world. Nearby in Mequon, folks are sharing gifts -- and God -- all in one package.
They're not Santa's elves, but they are just as busy. Community members at Christ Church are working hard to spread joy and get into the holiday spirit.
"It just keeps getting bigger and more fun," said Melissa Knous, co-leader for the Operation Christmas Child at Christ Church.
The church members gathered for a packing party to celebrate the gift of giving with Operation Christmas Child. After choosing an age and gender, folks make their own list of necessities and recreational items for kids in need.
"The washcloth is super treasured -- or a toothbrush," says Knous. "We make sure there are some toys!"
The packages are topped off with a handwritten note and tracing of a palm -- personal touches meant to connect with each child.
"They can put their hand together and cross those thousands of millions of miles," says Knous. "There's a connection there."
Some boxes are shipped off to remote places, where the contents of a small shoe box make a huge difference.
"I went to Cameroon, Africa," said area coordinator for Operation Christmas Child, Connie Marks. "They were very excited. The older kids, especially if the girls get sewing kits or the boys get fishing kits, hammer and nails. It is a trade they can learn."
Thousands of boxes will reach children yearning for more than just a gift. They're praying for 600,000 in the upper Midwest.
"These boxes are wrapped with our love and the love of Jesus," said Knous.
As kids serve kids here, the true present is felt on both sides.
"Their lives are changing because of what we are doing in this little town," said Knous. "I walked in here today an just started crying. It's just so heartwarming."
The shoe boxes will be sent to Minneapolis where they will be processed and combined with others across the region. Nationwide, about 12 million shoe boxes will be packed for Operation Christmas Child and mailed out worldwide.