Annual gifts program in full swing

The annual reminder that it’s important to give on a global scale during the Christmas season came round again last Friday as “Operation Christmas Child” shoeboxes were made available at the Canada Safeway store, local sponsor for the program.
“Operation Christmas Child,” a yearly project organized by Samaritan’s Purse International Relief, campaigns worldwide each fall for people to fill shoeboxes with personal items for needy children in more than 95 countries just time for the holiday season.
The shoeboxes reach the hands of children living in war-torn areas of the world, including those stricken by famine and natural disasters.
Marg Rousseau of Fort Frances, a local volunteer for the effort who’s been involved for seven years now, urged area residents to once again get involved in helping the world’s less fortunate children.
“It looks like everything [from Canada] is going to South America this year,” she noted Monday, as well as some countries in Central America and Africa.
“People like to know where [the gift boxes] are going so that they know what to put in them in terms of socks or clothes or anything,” she added.
Destination countries for shoebox gifts from Canada include Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela, Haiti, Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Senegal.
Last year, Rainy River District donated more than 500 shoeboxes for “Operation Christmas Child.” On a national scale, some 723,000 were collected.
The world, as a whole, donated nearly 7.4 million shoeboxes.
Local Safeway manager Dave McBride expected word of the campaign would soon be evident by the number of boxes that leave the store over the next couple of weeks.
“I would reckon we have about 500 [shoe] boxes and if this year is like any other year, we will ‘sell out,’” he said late Monday.
Shoeboxes and “Operation Christmas Child” brochures are available at the customer service counter at Safeway.
Meanwhile, Rousseau made note of a special and regular contributor to the local “Operation Christmas Child” program whose dedication to giving will be sorely missed.
Ethel Alexander of Fort Frances passed away in July—just shy of her 98th birthday.
“She’d always call me about this time every year and say “Come on over for tea because I’ve got my [gift] box ready.”
Alexander was a strong advocate of the program and her generosity in packing the shoebox with gift items meant your finger couldn’t fit in it.
“She just loved [giving]. She went the whole nine yards, bless her heart,” Rousseau said.
Filling a shoebox for “Operation Christmas Child” is simple, and any empty shoebox or small plastic container will do.
Wrap the box with gift wrap if you wish, and determine whether your gifts will be for a boy or a girl and choose from appropriate age categories from the brochure.
Gifts may include small musical instruments, yo-yos, small toys, school supplies, hygiene items such as a toothbrush or soap, hard-wrapped candy, socks, jewellery, a picture of yourself, or a note to the child.
Organizers suggest refraining from gift items that will melt, freeze, leak, or break, and nothing that will scare or harm a child.
Don’t forget to include a donation of $7 or more to help cover the cost of shipping the shoeboxes. An envelope for such a donation is included in the brochure.
The suggested donation price has increased from $5 to $7 in order to accommodate higher shipping costs. According to Samaritan’s Purse, this is the first increase since “Operation Christmas Child” began its annual campaign 13 years ago.
Filled shoeboxes must be returned to Rousseau or to Safeway, with collection/shipping week slated for Nov. 13-18.
For more information, contact Rousseau at 274-9446.