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September 13, 2011 > Celebrating age 50 by sending 50 gifts

Celebrating age 50 by sending 50 gifts

Submitted By Kelsey Heng, Photo courtesy of Genece McChesney

For Genece McChesney's 50th birthday, she asked for school supplies, hygiene items and small toys. This year's birthday was not about the celebration of another life milestone, rather sending shoe box gifts to children overseas who have never experienced the joy of receiving a gift.

The birthday party was to benefit Operation Christmas Child, the world's largest Christmas project of its kind, which uses the power of a simple gift to share a message of hope with suffering children. This year, Operation Christmas Child plans to hand deliver gift-filled shoe boxes to more than 8.5 million needy children experiencing war, natural disaster, poverty, terrorism, and disease in over 100 countries.

The birthday celebration was far from the usual, cake and ice cream was replaced with shoe boxes and children's toys. Together, guests donated hundreds of items, new and handmade, to be placed into personalized gifts to send this Christmas season.

"I would never ask for a party for myself," said McChesney. "I don't need a party. I wanted to use my birthday to draw people to give to others instead of myself."

For 10 years, the McChesney family has faithfully packed 1-3 shoe boxes a year. "Operation Christmas Child is a wonderful organization," said McChesney. "I love that everything you put into the shoe boxes goes directly to the children and in turn it makes them so happy."

She explains the simplicity of the project, saying, "The motto is 'a simple gift,' and it is really true. It is such a simple, easy thing to pack a shoe box, but it makes such a profound difference in a child's life. Most of all, it sends hope."

For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, call (714) 432-7030 or visit

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