Suwannee Democrat

November 14, 2012

THIS WEEK: Suwannee County resident celebrates eighth birthday by giving to children in need

Dillan Hillwig asks friends to pack shoe box gifts for needy children around the world during National Collection Week, Nov. 12-19

Suwannee Democrat

Live Oak — In this day and age, not many young children would pass up receiving presents on their birthday or on Christmas. But a seven-year-old boy with a big heart from Suwannee County has done just that. To celebrate his eighth birthday, Dillan Hillwig is asking his friends and family to pack gifts for children less fortunate. Through Operation Christmas Child, Dillan is joining tens of thousands of people across the US to fill empty shoe boxes with toys, school supplies and necessity items for impoverished children around the world.

Dillan told us “I want to help other kids that don’t have anything”.  
His goal is 100 gift-filled shoeboxes.  If anyone would like to donate items for his shoeboxes, they can reach Dillan’s mom Kristie Hillwig after 5:30 p.m. at 386-776-2567.

Dillan learned about Operation Christmas Child from local resident, Gwenn Evans, who packs shoeboxes at Philadelphia Baptist Church.

“Whenever he decides to volunteer or work with some kind of ministry, he gives 100 percent,” said Operation Christmas Child volunteer, Colleen Ruehl.

In 2012, Operation Christmas Child expects to reach a milestone—collecting and delivering shoe boxes to more than 100 million children since the project began in 1993. Suwannee residents hope to contribute 18,215 shoe box gifts to this year’s global collection goal of nine million gift-filled shoe boxes in order to help surpass the 100-millionth shoe box milestone.

Operation Christmas Child’s National Collection Week began this Monday, Nov. 12 and will continue until Monday, Nov. 19. Packed gifts are being dropped off at 17 collection sites in the Suwannee Valley area. To find a drop off location near you, visit Once dropped off, the shoe boxes are processed, prepared and transported to suffering children in more than 100 countries using whatever means necessary—trains, airplanes, boats, elephants, bikes and even dog sleds—to get the shoe boxes into the hands of needy kids.

Operation Christmas Child, a project of international Christian relief and evangelism organization Samaritan’s Purse, headed by Franklin Graham, is the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind.  Through the power of a simple gift and the message of hope through Jesus Christ, children learn they are loved and not forgotten.  For many of these children, the shoe box gift will be the first gift they’ve ever received.  

By using special tracking technology, participants can “follow” their shoe box and discover the country in which their gift will be hand-delivered to a child in need. To register your shoe box gift, use the “Follow Your Box” form online.  

Anyone can participate in Operation Christmas Child. For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, or to find the nearest drop-off site, call 407-852-3727 or visit