TIME TO FILL UP THOSE CHRIST­MAS SHOE­BOXES

It’s the sea­son of giv­ing, a sen­ti­ment Op­er­a­tion Christ­mas Child re­lies for its shoe­box cam­paign

The Woolwich Observer - - FRONT PAGE - ALI WIL­SON

AT A TIME WHEN stock­ings are filled and Christ­mas trees are over­flow­ing with gifts, some­thing as sim­ple as a shoe­box can bring un­be­liev­able joy to some­one in need.

That is why Op­er­a­tion Christ­mas Child con­tin­ues to send shoe­boxes filled with gifts to chil­dren from across the world.

In the run-up to this hol­i­day sea­son, Em­manuel Mis­sion­ary Church in Elmira is once again the lo­cal col­lec­tion cen­tre for the pro­gram or­ga­nized by Sa­mar­i­tan’s Purse.

Hav­ing col­lected just about 750 boxes from the con­gre­ga­tion and Elmira res­i­dents last year, Gail Mar­tin is look­ing to bring joy to just as many kids once again.

“Any­one in the Elmira area who is al­ready par­tic­i­pat­ing in this or who wants to par­tic­i­pate can pick up empty shoe­boxes at our church, get all of the in­for­ma­tion they need, fill them and get them back in time for our dead­line. Then we will make sure that they get to the ware­house in Guelph where they process all of the shoe­boxes that go over­seas,” she ex­plained.

Sup­plies at the church in­clude branded shoe­boxes and brochures ex­plain­ing how to pack them, along with la­bels that can be placed on the out­side to show your in­tended re­cip­i­ent, such as a young girl or an older boy.

How­ever, if there is not one in­tended re­cip­i­ent when the box is in­spected vol­un­teers make an ed­u­cated guess and di­rect it ac­cord- in­gly.

An ac­tiv­ity she does with her own son Sa­muel, Mar­tin notes that pack­ing boxes can be a fam­ily af­fair.

“It is such a great ac­tiv­ity with chil­dren be­cause you can di­rect a shoe­box to a child the same age as your child, so you can take your chil­dren shop­ping and they can pick out presents for a child half­way across the world who is their age. They can get all ex­cited about it,” she said. “Some peo­ple even put notes in the shoe­boxes and some­times get a let­ter back, so they can build a re­la­tion­ship with some­one in the Ukraine, for in­stance”

Rather than think­ing by age or gen­der, a unique idea some have done in the past is to fill the boxes with school sup­plies with the in­tent of send­ing it to schools in re­cip­i­ent re­gions.

“Some­times peo­ple like to do shoe­boxes for schools, so it would be full of school sup­plies for teach­ers,” she said. “You can in­di­cate that it is a box for a teacher and then you can think of all of the school sup­plies that might be re­ally hard to come by in de­vel­op­ing na­tions – you are look­ing at pa­per, you’re look­ing at pen­cil crayons, sharp­en­ers, pen­cils, any­thing like that.”

Al­though most things are wel­come, with boxes head­ing to re­gions within Cen­tral Amer­ica, South Amer­ica, Africa and Europe this year she wants to em­pha­size not to put toy weapons in boxes.

“A lot of these na­tions are war torn na­tions and its ac­tu­ally dan­ger­ous for some of these chil­dren to ac­tu­ally have a toy gun in some of these ar­eas.” she said. “We are re­ally try­ing to be sen­si­tive to the ar­eas that we are send­ing these boxes to.”

Even if you’re un­able to pack a full box your­self, Mar­tin ex­plains there are other ways to give back.

“In pre­vi­ous years we have had a num­ber of won­der­ful Elmira res­i­dents who had hand­made quilts dropped off or tuques and mit­tens. So in­stead of do­ing a shoe­box they would bring items that could sup­ple­ment shoe­boxes,” she said.

“Even if you can’t ac­tu­ally get out to a lo­ca­tion, you can do­nate by pack­ing it on­line. They (Sa­mar­i­tan’s Purse) have this whole process where you can give a do­na­tion and se­lect a va­ri­ety of gift items that can be sent on your be­half.”

This year’s col­lec­tion pe­riod will be run­ning from now un­til Novem­ber 19, with the church open 9 a.m. un­til noon Satur­day for any last­minute do­na­tions from the com­mu­nity.

“That way if peo­ple can’t come in dur­ing the week, I’ve set aside some ded­i­cated time,” said Mar­tin, al­though she noted that there will be reg­u­lar events through the week where there are peo­ple at the church.

Mar­tin also noted that Ki­wa­nis Tran­sit will be trans­port­ing the filled shoe­boxes to the ware­house in Guelph this year.

For more in­for­ma­tion peo­ple can con­tact her di­rectly for in­for­ma­tion at 519589-8521.

[ALI WIL­SON / THE OB­SERVER]

Sa­muel and Gail Mar­tin with the shoe­boxes for Op­er­a­tion Christ­mas Child cam­paign. Em­manuel Mis­sion­ary Church in Elmira will be col­lect­ing filled boxes through Nov. 19.

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