Volunteers are busy organizing for next week’s collection of shoe-boxes for the 2022 edition of Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Gifts.
Beginning today (Nov. 14) until Wednesday Nov. 16, local residents who have filled shoe-boxes are being asked to take them to the Mountain View Assembly Church (2701 Viewmont Road South), in Smithers between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Individuals, families, churches, businesses, sports teams, and community groups are now packing shoe-boxes with toys, school supplies, and hygiene items, plus personal notes and photos, to be delivered to children in need around the world.
“We are not sure how many boxes will be filled for our area, since COVID made a break in our program, but we expect quite a few,” Smithers Operation Christmas Child (OCC) organizer Karen Wedlock said.
Last year, Canadians filled more than 413,000 shoeboxes, and since 1993, OCC has collected and distributed almost 200 million shoe-box gifts in more than 100 countries.
“It seems the world’s greatest need over the past few years has been hope,” said Kendra Shields, acting director of OCC.
“This is the essence of Operation Christmas Child. Every shoe-box gift is an opportunity for a child to learn that he or she matters to Canadians.”
Wedlock and others have also been packing shoeboxes with items dropped off by people, and commented that it is not unusual for people to show up at the church with bags of items for the boxes, and they welcome the donations.
“As we are just starting again, we would like to also let our communities know they can make shoe-boxes all year long, and then drop them off when the time rolls around again. We are also hoping groups and individuals may do some knitting or make local items to be included in the boxes such as soaps, small books, art, sweaters and mittens.”
This year as some of the shoe-boxes are destined for Ukraine where the Russian attacks on the country’s energy infrastructure is affecting the ability of Ukrainians to heat their homes, the group is hoping for donations of warm clothing to add to the boxes.
“For boxes you fill on your own, you can choose the age range, girls or boys and add a “special item” like a soccer ball and pump, for instance,” Wedlock said.
“There are lists of items and suggestions on the website to fill the boxes with, or you can text me at 250-877-0661, for more information,” Wedlock suggested.
As in past years, Bandstra Transportation will ship the shoeboxes out of Smithers. Bandstra will take the shipment as far as Prince George where Samaritan’s Purse will arrange for ongoing transportation to its Calgary processing centre.
People filling shoe-boxes are asked to provide $10 for shipping costs. If people do not wish to contribute a physical shoe-box, they can provide one online at PackABox.ca.
More information about OCC is available via www.SamaritansPurse.ca.
Children in Ukraine, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Philippines, Guinea, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, Senegal and Guinea Bissau will be receiving the shoeboxes from Canada this year.