With all the devastation Mother Nature has wreaked in impoverished countries this year, the goodwill of Operation Christmas Child is a simple way to send a little something – a shoebox of gifts – just in time for Christmas.
And now’s the time to get packing.
There’s only three weeks left before shoeboxes from Greater Trail have to be shipped to Samaritan’s Purse (International Relief Canada) in Calgary for inspection before they are sent around the world.
Debbie McDonnell has been organizing the local Operation Christmas Child drive for 10-plus years, and says the shoeboxes are delivered to vulnerable children in more than 100 countries.
“They hit the most devastated and impoverished countries first,” McDonnell told the Trail Times. “The poverty breaks your heart, and if it wasn’t for organizations that go in there to help, there would be no hope.”
Boys and girls from ages 2 to 14, who have experienced the worst of sadness, drought, disease, famine and civil war, will receive a Christmas box.
They have no access to what most North American children consider everyday items, like bar soap, toothbrushes, combs, colouring books and crayons.
“I want to mention the integrity of the box,” said McDonnell. “Everything that is put in there is left exactly the way it is -nothing is taken out, altered or changed unless it is unsafe or not approved.”
The campaign suggests shoebox gifts, like a doll or stuffed animal, a soccer ball with pump, socks, hair clips, puzzles and certain toiletries. Or anyone can visit the Samaratin’s Purse at packabox.ca and walk through steps to pack shoebox gifts online.
Samaratin’s Purse requests a minimum $10 donation per box to help with shipping costs; contributions (cheques) can be left inside the shoebox or completed online.
Locally, boxes can be picked up at Trail Alliance Church, Trail Presbyterian Church, Gateway Christian Life Centre, Trail and Castlegar Greyhound Bus Depots, Liberty Foods and the Fruitvale Christian Fellowship.
A shoebox celebration will be held at the Trail Alliance Church on Friday, Nov. 17, from 6-8 p.m. McDonnell invites the community to drop their boxes off that night and enjoy some treats.
Operation Christmas Child works with churches around the world to deliver the boxes, but the message of hope and joy is non denominational, no child is left behind.
“No matter race, colour, religion, or anything else,” Debbie shared. “Every child gets a shoebox.”
Community groups, organizations, or individuals interested in holding their own shoebox drive can contact the McDonnell at 250.231.5711.
The local campaign has a goal to collect 1,000 shoeboxes.
“The boxes have all arrived and been distributed, and have to be collected by the 17th of November,” McDonnell emphasized.
“So the sooner the better.”
For more information or to pack a virtual box, visit samaratinspurse.ca.