Debbie and Dwayne McDonnell are witnesses to the heart-wrenching reality of children living in third world poverty.
That’s why the Montrose couple has been organizing Operation Christmas Child for over a decade – the Samaritan’s Purse campaign asks locals to fill a shoebox with gifts for children, those shoeboxes are then shipped to the third world countries around the globe.
“The poverty, it breaks your heart,” Debbie shared, mentioning their most recent trip to Uganda. “If it wasn’t for organizations that go in there to help, there would be no hope.”
Young people who receive a Christmas box have experienced the worst of sadness, drought, disease, famine and civil war. 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 Debbie. “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.
“Otherwise everything you put in there, stays. They like the integrity of the box to be left the way it is.”
The program provides a list of suggestions, such as dolls, stuffed animals, socks, hair clips, puzzles and certain toiletries. Additionally, Samaritan’s Purse collects $7 per box which can be placed inside the box by cheque or donated online.
Local boxes can be picked up at Trail Alliance Church, Trail Presbyterian Church, Gateway Christian Life Centre, the Trail Greyhound Bus Depot, Liberty Foods or Fruitvale Christian Fellowship.
A shoebox celebration night will be held at the Trail Alliance Church on Nov. 18 from 6:30-8 p.m.
The McDonnell’s invite 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 added. “Every child gets a shoebox.”
Community groups, organizations, or individuals interested in holding their own shoebox drive can contact the McDonnells at 250.367.0177.
The local campaign has a goal to collect 1,000 shoeboxes between now and November 18.