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Water commissioner gives back for Christmas

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BOZEMAN, Mont. - Gallatin River water commissioner George Alberda is in charge during the summer of making sure there is enough water in the stream for farmers.

During the holiday season Alberda has the responsibility of making sure kids around the world get presents for Christmas.

Alberda has spent over a decade lending his help every Christmas for a special cause, Operation Christmas Child.

"Operation Christmas Child is a ministry of Samaritan's Purse, where people in the United States and other countries put gift-filled shoe boxes together," said Alberda. "Then those boxes are shipped to children around the world, to third-world countries and to boys and girls who, actually, many of them have never even received a gift in their life."

Alberda's friend, Renee Levine, who started with him 13 years ago when the ministry opened up at their church, shared what those days were like.

"We opened our first collection center in November of 2004," said Levine, who works as a collection center coordinator. "We were just delighted to see people bring in so many shoe box gifts."

Alberda said they have collected over 2,000 shoe boxes so far. Their goal is 7,145. They fill the boxes with school supplies, toothbrushes and fun things for children.

"These cartons all obviously have these boxes in them, and they go from here to Denver. Then from Denver, they'll go to wherever, parts around the world," said Alberda.

Alberda believes what he is doing serves a greater purpose. He is inspired by one story of a man who opened his own shoe box gift as a child.

"He was in an orphanage and he had no hope, he thought the world had forgotten him," said Alberda. "He said when he opened his box it gave him hope. And he knew he had a future. So just knowing that is the fun part of it."

Operation Christmas Child is a nationwide program. If you would like to donate a shoe box gift, you can find more information for that here.

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