‘Operation Christmas Child’ underway

“Don’t throw out your empty shoe boxes!”
That’s a message Marg Rousseau of Fort Frances wants to get out to people as part of “Operation Christmas Child”–a charitable effort that sends shoe boxes filled with gifts to poverty-stricken children in Central America and Southeast Asia.
Rousseau, who is co-ordinating the effort locally, said she hoped to see at least 200 gift-filled shoe boxes donated by area residents before Nov. 10.
“I am trying to get [‘Operation Christmas Child’] going here and I’m hoping it’s really gonna take off,” Rousseau noted last week, adding she had decided to run with the idea after learning of a similar effort in Thunder Bay.
“Operation Christmas Child” is organized by Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief organization headed by Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Dr. Billy Graham.
Last year, more than 2.3 million gift-filled shoe boxes from across Canada, the United States, Europe, and Australia were distributed to children in more than 55 countries throughout Latin America, Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
Rousseau said people can choose to help a boy or a girl in age categories ranging from age two-four, five-nine, or 10-14. And filling the shoe box doesn’t have to be expensive.
“[‘Operation Christmas Child’] suggests putting in toys, balls, stuffed animals, yo-yo’s, harmonicas, or even school supplies,” she noted.
Other gift suggestions include slinkys, crayons, stamp and ink pads, toothbrushes, soap, combs, sunglasses, hair-clips, and small picture books.
“You also can put in hard-wrapped candy, mints, or gum,” she added.
“Operation Christmas Child” does advise against sending used items that are stained or worn out, toy guns, knives, or other war-related items, chocolate, perishable or canned goods, medicines, or breakable items.
Rousseau visited local schools to spread the word about “Operation Christmas Child” in hopes children would take the idea home to their parents and make helping a less fortunate child a family event.
“And if you write a little letter and include a photo, you just might hear back from that child,” she stressed.
“Operation Christmas Child” also encourages people to wrap their shoe box (the bottom separate from the lid) and to enclose a small donation to help cover shipping and handling costs.
“I phoned ‘Operation Christmas Child’ in Calgary and they said that because of Customs regulations, they have to inspect the boxes before they go,” explained Rousseau, noting the donation envelope also should be clearly marked for use towards shipping costs.
Mary’s Little Lambs (298 Scott St.) is the drop-off point for gift-filled shoe boxes. Rousseau can be reached at 274-9446.