Lo­cal cou­ple de­liv­ers shoe­boxes to kids in El Sal­vador

Third trip Terry and Stephanie Whey have made with Sa­mar­i­tan’s Purse

The Labradorian - - Front Page - BY DANETTE DOO­LEY danette@nl.rogers.com

Terry and Stephanie Whey of Happy Val­ley-Goose Bay are back home from an un­for­get­table trip to El Sal­vador where they gave poverty-stricken chil­dren shoe­boxes filled with small toys, hy­giene items and school sup­plies.

The cou­ple was vol­un­teer­ing with a not-for-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion called Sa­mar­i­tan’s Purse.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion has been reach­ing out to chil­dren through its an­nual Oper­a­tion Chil­dren Child pro­gram for the past 25 years. Since that time Sa­mar­i­tan’s Purse has de­liv­ered boxes to over 135 mil­lion chil­dren in the de­vel­op­ing world.

The first dis­tri­bu­tion of shoe­boxes took Terry and Stephanie and the other vol­un­teers up a steep path through the woods. It was a hor­ren­dous 15-minute trek in ex­treme heat, Stephanie says.

“You land in a mod­ern­ized city but af­ter that, when we went to do our dis­tri­bu­tions, you go into the coun­try. We walked, ba­si­cally straight up, to a land­ing where a lit­tle church had been built in the woods. And this is where these peo­ple go ev­ery Sun­day,” she says.

Be­cause the chil­dren dress the same for school and church, she says, the poverty is of­ten masked.

Giv­ing out the shoe­boxes was an emo­tional ex­pe­ri­ence, she adds.

“For some of these kids, this was the first gift they’d ever re­ceived. It was a tremen­dous feel­ing giv­ing them their gift.”

The El Sal­vador trip was the Whey’s third mis­sion as Sa­mar­i­tan’s Purse vol­un­teers.

In 2016 they trav­elled to Haiti; 2017 saw them head to Africa.

Al­though there is poverty within the com­mu­ni­ties they have vis­ited, Stephanie say the chil­dren ap­pear friendly and con­tent.

Her hus­band agrees.

“The kids are very happy to re­ceive these shoe­boxes with very es­sen­tial items like pen­cils, crayons and pa­per. They are things they need to go to school but what they don’t have,” Terry says.

Af­ter the boxes are dis­trib­uted, the lo­cal churches of­fer Bi­ble stud­ies to the chil­dren.

It’s not some­thing the chil­dren have to par­tic­i­pate in, Terry says, rather it’s a pro­gram that is of­fered to them.

Terry says while they em­bark each the mis­sion as a cou­ple (pay­ing ap­prox­i­mately $3,500 each for their trip) they look for sup­port through­out the com­mu­nity to fill shoe­boxes.

Once the boxes are filled, they are sent to other ar­eas in the coun­try, he says, where they packed into sea con­tain­ers and shipped to var­i­ous coun­tries.

Ac­cord­ing to its web­site ( HYPERLINK “http://www.samar­i­tanspurse.ca” www.samar­i­tanspurse.ca), Sa­mar­i­tan’s Purse pro­vides help to vic­tims of war, dis­ease, dis­as­ter, poverty, famine, and per­se­cu­tion. Shoe­boxes are given to chil­dren re­gard­less of gen­der, race or religion.

More shoe­boxes are needed, Terry adds, es­pe­cially for the younger chil­dren in El Sal­vador.

“They were short on some boxes for the two-to-four-year olds. So they would have got­ten a box (packed for) the five-to-nineyear olds,” he ex­plains.

Terry and Stephanie en­cour­age peo­ple in the com­mu­nity to pick up and fill a shoe­box.

Shoe­boxes are avail­able through some churches, Terry says, and from his busi­ness Terry’s Tents and Shoe Re­pairs, 326 Hamil­ton River Road. They can also be re­turned to his store once they are filled.

“We have car­tons set up at the front of the store and peo­ple can bring in their (filled) shoe­boxes and put them right in the car­ton.”

The dead­line to drop off Christ­mas shoe­boxes is Nov. 4.

CON­TRIB­UTED

Stephanie and Terry Whey of Happy Val­ley-Goose Bay on their trip to El Sal­vador with some of the chil­dren who re­ceived shoe­boxes.

CON­TRIB­UTED

A young boy re­ceiv­ing a ball in his shoe­box.

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