It isn’t even Halloween yet, but Debbie McDonnell is already thinking about Christmas presents – not for her family, but for less fortunate children all over the world.
Through Operation Christmas Child, shoeboxes are packed with toys and necessities and shipped to children in developing nations, like Liberia and Haiti.
With the project, kids from over 100 countries will be getting a present at Christmastime, and McDonnell says it could be the only present they get this year.
“For a lot of the children, it is the only gift they will ever receive,” she said, adding it isn’t just kids who celebrate Christmas who will be getting a box.
“It is given to every child, no matter what their race, religion, anything. There are no barriers – every child receives a shoebox.”
McDonnell says the project not only helps the children receiving the shoeboxes, but those who are giving them, as well.
“We are all so blessed here and have so much, sometimes you don’t think of the kids that don’t have anything – not even one toy,” she said.
“It is a good way for parents to teach their kids that not all children have what they have. We saw a lot of that last year – parents trying to teach their kids that it is good to give and not just receive.”
Last year’s Operation Christmas Child project in Trail sent out over 600 shoeboxes to needy children in third-world countries and this year’s goal is to send 1,000. Almost 10 million shoeboxes were collected internationally in last year’s campaign.
“Anyone can make the shoeboxes, whether it is community groups, churches or individuals,” said McDonnell, adding that there is an online store for putting together a box. “You can also go online and do a shoebox there and then it will get put together. It works for people who are busy or are elderly and can’t get out and shop.”
Shoebox makers get to decide if they are making a box for a girl or a boy, which age group, and then start packing up boxes.
“We suggest things like a piece of clothing, like a t-shirt, and personal hygiene products like a wash cloth, soap or a toothbrush,” said McDonnell. “Also, hard candies, skipping ropes, maybe Tonka toys – all kinds of small items that could fit into a shoebox.”
Empty Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes can be picked up at First Presbyterian Church and the Alliance Church in Trail and Liberty Foods in Fruitvale. Completed Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes can also be dropped off at the same locations, but need to be in before Nov. 20 so there is enough time before Christmas to get the shoeboxes to their new owners.
McDonnell says anyone who wants more information or is interested in helping out can call 250-367-0177.