TIME TO FILL UP THOSE CHRISTMAS SHOEBOXES
It’s the season of giving, a sentiment Operation Christmas Child relies for its shoebox campaign
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.
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.