Estevan area residents are once again encouraged to fill shoeboxes for the annual Operation Christmas Child (OCC) campaign.
OCC is a project of the Samaritan’s Purse ministry. A total of 1,196 shoeboxes were filled in the Estevan area last year.
Jillian Ursu, who is in her fifth year as the Estevan campaign co-ordinator, said this is Operation Christmas Child’s 25th anniversary; more than 157 million children have received shoebox gifts since the campaign’s beginning in 1993.
Shoeboxes filled in Canada will be going to Costa Rica, Cote d’lvoire, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Ukraine.
The Ukraine initiative has been an addition to OCC for the past few years.
“This initiative encourages those who already pack a shoebox to pack an additional shoebox to send to … Ukraine,” Ursu wrote.
Shoeboxes packed for Ukraine require a Ukraine label, in addition to the boy/girl label, which can be printed off on the Samaritan’s Purse website or added at the collection centre at the Estevan Alliance Church.
“As the Ukraine is the only cold weather country that our shoeboxes get sent to, specialty items like mitts, toques, scarves, slippers, fuzzy socks can be added,” stated the information.
Ursu believes packing a shoebox is a wonderful way to show compassion for children around the world, and to embrace the spirit of giving.
“It is an incredible opportunity for individuals, couples, families, churches, groups, organizations, schools, etc.,” she said. “Anyone can pack a shoebox and put a smile on the face of a hurting child thousands of kilometres away.”
If people pack an online shoebox as opposed to a physical one, they can select the “Follow my shoebox” option. Once the receiving country of the shoebox is known, people will receive an email update letting them know where your shoebox is going.
To pack a shoebox, people can get a regular shoebox or the OCC shoebox from their local collection centre. They have to decide whether they are packing for a girl or boy and which age group the box is for, and fill it with items.
Potential items to include are toys such as balls, dolls, stuffed animals, socks, hair accessories, cars, musical instruments, puzzles and jump ropes; hygiene items like a toothbrush, comb, brush, a bar of soap, floss and a wash cloth; a plain t-shirt; and school supplies like pencils, pens, crayons, pencil crayons and a notebook. Donors are also encouraged to include a personal photo.
Items that can’t be included are food, candy, playing cards, toothpaste, war-related items or items that can leak, freeze, or melt.
People are also asked to add a donation of $10 per shoebox to help with the cost of getting the packed shoebox to the child who needs it. Place the donation in an envelope on top of items in one of the shoeboxes.
Donations can be combined into one shoebox if multiple shoeboxes are packed. Cheque or online credit card donation is preferred over cash.
The shoebox is to be dropped off at the Estevan Alliance Church before or during the national collection week from Nov. 12-18.
“OCC is a unique and beautiful opportunity to be blessed and to bless by lovingly packing a shoebox and sending off a simple, yet incredible gift to a child who may very well only receive this one very special gift throughout their entire lifetime,” said Ursu.
“When you are packing your shoebox, imagine the child you are packing it for, decide if you will pack for a girl or a boy, a small child, or a teen, and pack items that will not only be useful (like hygiene items and school supplies), but those incredible ‘wow’ items that will bring pure joy to the face of the child who receives it.”