Christmas shoebox campaign ends Saturday

Local residents are reminded they still have time to brighten a child’s Christmas through a few simple gifts, with this Saturday (Nov. 12) being the deadline to participate in “Operation Christmas Child.”
Local resident Edith Alexander, who has been contributing a shoebox of gifts to the campaign every year for the last five, had her donation picked up by campaign organizer Marg Rousseau on Monday.
“It’s packed so tight, you can’t even get a finger in there,” Rousseau enthused about the 97-year-old’s annual contribution.
Indeed, as Alexander listed the items she chose for her shoebox, it was hard to believe she fit them all in.
Alexander said she included toothpaste and a toothbrush, a face cloth and hand towel, a little plaid skirt and sweatshirt, hair clips, soap, candy, pencils, two little teddy bears, a doll, a picture book, and crayons.
“I stuck a picture of myself in there, too, for fun,” she laughed.
She said she also included a short note “letting them know how much I enjoyed putting the box together,” she explained.
Alexander said she puts a great deal of thought into her shoebox each year and often will begin working on the next one right after the holidays.
Every year, “Operation Christmas Child” encourages children and adults to take an ordinary shoebox, decorate it, then fill it with small gifts for children suffering the effects of war, famine, or natural disasters.
Alexander’s gifts are all considered appropriate, as are toys like balls, jump ropes, yo-yos, toy cars, and small musical instruments like harmonicas and kazoos.
Food is not a suitable gift, although hard, non-perishable candy that is wrapped is acceptable—and greatly appreciated.
It also is important not to include anything used, or anything that could melt, freeze, leak, break, or scare or harm a child.
Donors are asked to label their box for a girl or a boy, and whether it is intended for a child aged two-four, five-nine, or 10-14. They also should include a cheque for $5 or more to cover shipping costs.
Rousseau said Samaritan’s Purse, the charitable organization that runs “Operation Christmas Child,” goes beyond giving gifts to children. They take a team of doctors along as they visit the villages to deliver the boxes, as well as blankets and food.
“The children receive the parcels, but the whole community benefits,” Rousseau said.
Having spoken with people who have gone to help deliver the boxes, Rousseau said the organization goes to extraordinary lengths to bring the boxes to children even in remote areas—sometimes travelling by canoe, helicopter, donkey, or camel.
“Whatever you put in there, the kids will be glad to get it because most of them never get anything,” Rousseau said. “The kids share with each other. They really appreciate what they get.”
Canada Safeway is the local sponsor for “Operation Christmas Child.”
Information pamphlets and boxes are available at the customer service desk, and prepared boxes can be dropped off there no later than this Saturday.