“Operation Christmas Child,” the annual shoebox campaign, has begun to wind down, with today being the start of collection week in the district.
The campaign, conducted by Samaritan’s Purse, sends shoeboxes full of small gifts to children in countries ravaged by war, poverty, famine, and natural disasters.
People have until this Sunday (Nov. 27) to drop off their shoeboxes at a local collection centre. But area collection co-ordinator Della McQuaker is asking for all Rainy River District boxes to be in by Friday (Nov. 25).
“The stores have been saying that the numbers [of returned] boxes are down, but that the boxes going out were [a] record number, so it should be quite the week,” said McQuaker, noting 150 shoeboxes already have been collected.
And while that number also is lower than last year, McQuaker believes they still can reach their goal of bringing in more than the 458 collected last year.
“We just want to encourage people to get their boxes in,” she stressed, adding filling a shoebox is a really good way to teach children about compassion.
Participants of any age can fill shoeboxes with a variety of school supplies, small toys, hygiene products, and even a personal note or photo.
“These boxes travel around the world using every form of transportation imaginable, from trucks to boats to planes to the backs of camels, to be dispersed to children of Third World countries,” McQuaker explained.
“Many of the children who receive a shoebox from ‘Operation Christmas Child’ are being given the first gift they have ever received,” she noted.
Countries that will receive a shipment of shoeboxes from Canada this year include Costa Rica, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.
The main collection centre for this area is at Bethel Baptist Church on Morrison Crescent (behind the Adventure Inn).
Other area collection centres are located at Northland Basics and The Bargain Shop in Fort Frances, Tompkins Hardware and Calvary Baptist Church in Emo, and Trinity Lutheran in Bergland.
McQuaker would like people, if possible, to bring their shoeboxes to Bethel Baptist Church as some of the stores have limited storage space for the boxes.
Donations also are welcomed to cover the suggested $7 donation for each shoebox for project costs, including shipping.
As well, people are invited to pack a “virtual” shoebox by giving online through the O.C.C. website at www.samaritanspurse.ca/Operation-Christmas-Child
For more information, contact McQuaker at 486-3595 or Pastor Dave Groff at 274-5569.