Cary woman to share Christmas cheer in Caribbean

Posted February 5, 2009 1:06 p.m. EST

— In February, a Cary woman will keep on spreading the joy of Christmas to needy children in the Dominican Republic.

Barbara Ralston and other Samaritan's Purse volunteers will deliver nearly 10,000 shoe boxes full of gifts to children in orphanages, schools and churches. The team will be in the small Caribbean island nation Feb. 10-12.

Ralston, a retired health-care administrator, has coordinated Operation Christmas Child for three years, collecting supplies and promoting the annual project for towns in six counties.

"I am thrilled to be able to witness this final stage of the shoe box journey," Ralston said. "Personally seeing the children open their boxes on this trip will continue to motivate my desire to promote the project in my community."

Donors pack shoe boxes with small toys, school supplies, hygiene items and a personal note. Volunteers collect the gift boxes in November and hand-deliver them to children in more than 100 countries.

Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has sent 68 million gifts to children in countries hit hard by war, natural disaster, poverty, terrorism or disease.