LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) -

A local group is on a mission this holiday season to make a lasting impact on children in need.

Nearly 9,000 empty shoeboxes are being turned into gifts for children overseas living in war-torn areas or in extreme poverty, as part of 'Operation Christmas Child.' Each box will be filled with school supplies, hygiene items, notes of encouragement and toys.

The project is an annual event organizers say help brings hope to children in difficult situations.

"For them to receive a box that has not only the personal items they need like a toothbrush, which they may have never seen before, but for them to receive a toy or a stuffed animal, something to ease and give them hope, it's amazing,” said Operation Christmas Child Collection Center Coordinator Cindi Kyte.

More than 135-million shoe box gifts have been delivered to children in 150 countries since the program began in 1993.

If you would like to donate or volunteer for 'Operation Christmas Child', you can find out how on their website.