The boxes are waiting to be filled for Operation Christmas Child in the Greater Trail region this year

The boxes are waiting to be filled for Operation Christmas Child in the Greater Trail region this year

Operation Christmas Child spreads joy around the world

Operation Christmas Child has kicked off its shoebox campaign in the Greater Trail region for the coming season.

Operation Christmas Child has kicked off its shoebox campaign in the Greater Trail region for the coming season.

Now in its ninth year of operation, the annual campaign encourages local people to collect gifts and items—assembled in a shoebox—for children in third world countries around the globe.

The young people who receive these shoeboxes have experienced the worst of sadness, drought, disease, famine, and civil war and have no access to the simple luxuries these shoeboxes provide, said Greater Trail collection centre coordinator, Dwayne McDonnell.

“For many of these children this is the only gift they will ever receive their entire life,” he said.

The program is simple: Using a suggestion list, people get the chance to brighten a child’s Christmas by collecting any items a child would like—toys, balls, school supplies—and place them in a shoe box to be shipped overseas.

Each shoebox gift is given to children regardless of gender, race, religion or age. When culturally appropriate, copies of a book entitled “The Greatest Gift of All,” which has been translated into 130 different languages, are offered to children after the shoebox has already been distributed.

“What I really like about Operation Christmas Child is that it is the only organization I know of where you get to pick out something special for a child on the other side of the world and have it delivered to them personally,” said McDonnell.

Locally, the shoeboxes are collected until the week of Nov. 19–25.

There are two collection centres—Liberty Foods in Fruitvale and the Trail Alliance Church—with a big drop-off night at the Alliance Church on Friday, Nov. 23

Last year Greater Trail contributed just over 800 shoeboxes, with the goal this year to reach 1,000.

Operation Christmas Child is a branch of Samaritan’s Purse and was started in 1990 by Dave Cooke, a Welshman who felt moved to deliver gifts to Romanian orphans after seeing their living circumstances on television.

To date, Operation Christmas Child has collected and distributed over 94 million shoebox gifts worldwide.

Local boxes are available at Trail Alliance Church, the Trail Presbyterian Church and the Liberty Foods in Fruitvale.

You can visit the website at: http://www.samaritanspurse.ca/operation-christmas-child/ for more information.