Heartfelt thanks

Dear editor:
The “Operation Christmas Child” collection centre is happy to announce the initiative was a success in the Fort Frances/Rainy River area again in 2010!
We gave out more than 600 cartons. Then on Nov. 27, our district sent a total of 458 boxes to the Kitchener collection centre (we had two boxes come in late and sent them to Kitchener via Grey Goose Bus lines, giving us a record total of 460 boxes!)
Area participants to the program packed shoeboxes, pack sacks, or plastic containers with gifts of toys, hygienic items, school supplies, clothing, candy, and other items that soon will be on their way to the children of Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Haiti), South America (Argentina, Bolivia, and Uruguay) and West Africa (Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, and Senegal).
These are the very poor and underprivileged children of these Third World countries—children suffering from disaster, famine, poverty, and/or war in our world.
Excitement for the project proved contagious and some residents who could not put together a complete box chose instead to give cash. Others helped by adding items to boxes being put together by local schools, church youth groups, or special interest groups.
This area not only surpassed our total from last year (419 boxes), but we were able to increase our field to supply boxes to and collect from Quetico and Atikokan residents!
Prayer for the children who receive our boxes, and for their safe arrival at their destinations, is desired to fulfill this mission/program. Each child who receives a shoebox also is offered a copy of “The Greatest Gift of All” (whenever appropriate), which presents the Gospel and follows up with the invitation for Bible lessons.
Samaritan’s Purse estimates that for every 10 children who receive a box, one of those will make a decision to accept Christ as their Savior. If you are able and willing to help Samaritan’s Purse with this cost, you can find this opportunity or more information at www.samitanspurse.ca
One still can participate and pack a shoebox online for a child in Haiti from anywhere in Canada online at samaritanspurse.ca/shoebox/
As well, donations still can be given to help offset the cost of shipping, or the “beyond the box” opportunities, because Operation Christmas Child is opening doors to provide other help to children, their families, and their communities through safe drinking water, literacy, agricultural classes, job skills initiatives, feeding programs, medical care, and more.
The Canadian shoebox total in 2009 was 640,569. Of this, Ontario residents gave 253,072. These numbers still may be on the decline from a 2008 all-time high, but considering each area charity our district serves so well, we can be very proud of our willingness to give from our abundance!
Our centre could not know the level of success we’ve seen this year without the aid we received from free advertising, our local collection centres, and participating churches that help generate enthusiasm. Special recognition is due to the Fort Frances Times and West End Weekly reporter Marlene Deschamps. And B•93 news director Randy Thoms again was generous with air time throughout the campaign, and especially at our start-up and collection week.
Randy sought us out for an on-air interview before we asked for advertising, and this contributed much to the overall success of the campaign.
Special appreciation also is due to Darcy Banman at The Bargain Store, Jim Hudson at Northland Basics, Carolyn Kreger in Bergland for Trinity Lutheran Church, Linda Pitkanen at Quetico North, Lois Dueck and family at Calvary Baptist in Emo, and Wendy Jackson at Tompkins Hardware and the Home Hardware truck drivers!
A heartfelt thanks is due to each of the collection centre’s staffs as they became willing volunteers, handing out boxes and answering many questions about the Operation Christmas Child program; as well as many members of Bethel Baptist Church who manned the church during the collection week, and made numerous trips up and down stairs to pack them and deliver them to Emo.
And to each in our community who filled boxes, and whose enthusiasm made the task of serving in this project so very rewarding! You are all great!
We remain privileged to be part of this program and this community and, God willing, are able to serve again next year. Please let us count on your support again!
Pastor Dave Groff
(Bethel Baptist Church)
and Della McQuaker,
Collection co-ordinator