By Kim Hutchison
In 2007, 661,530 shoeboxes from Canada packed with presents were distributed to children suffering from the effects of famine, war, natural disaster, disease, and poverty around the world. These boxes, delivered by teams of pastors, charities and civic leaders every year, are part of Operation Christmas Child.
Operation Christmas child began in 1990 when Dave and Jill Cook of Whales wanted to help children who had so little after seeing a broadcast on Romanian Orphanages so they filled a convoy of nine trucks with medical supplies, food, clothing and Christmas presents and drove into Romania to deliver the much needed items. In 1993, the campaign was adopted by Franklin Graham, International President of Samaritan’s Purse – a nondenominational Evangelical Christian organization that has been meeting the needs of people in need by providing aid and relief since the 1970s.
Now, every year specific countries and regions within those countries are chosen to be canvassed for children in need of a shoe box gift. Operation Christmas Child workers go from village to village finding out how many children there are, their ages and whether they are male or female. Shoe box gifts collected from participating locations are then sent out to those various countries and regions based on this canvassing. New regions are canvassed each year so different children receive the gifts. Some children have never received a Christmas gift before and it is the only one they will get so it is no surprise that the gifts are truly cherished.
How to prepare a shoebox
Use a sturdy shoebox or plastic box (no larger than 9X12X5”). Plastic boxes are highly recommended since they can be used for practical purposes such as storage and carrying containers after the presents are taken out of it. Wrapping is optional.
Decide whether your gift will be for a boy or a girl and choose an age category of 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14. Fill the shoebox with suggested gifts including school supplies, toys, hygiene items such as toothbrushes, hairbrushes, deoderant and face cloths, hard candy, t-shirts, socks, hats, sunglasses, hair clips, jewelry, watches, etc. Some people like to send a personal note and/or picture. If you choose to do so, it must be enclosed in a separate envelope.
Due to shipping and custom regulations certain gifts cannot be sent. Don’t send toothpaste, liquids or items that leak, melt or freeze (shampoo, gel, paint, lip balm, liquid glue, etc), chewy soft-centered, crumbly or unwrapped candy (gum, rockets, tootsie rolls, etc.) used items, breakable items and items that can scare of harm a child such as knives, toy guns, etc.
Place a rubber band around the box you have prepared and drop it off at the Great Canadian Dollar Store. $7 is required for each shoebox to help cover project costs and to expand assistance to children and their communities.
A 3-minute instructional video and information pertaining to Operation Christmas Child is available at www.dollarstores.com.