By Cal Braid
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Canada’s 2023 Operation Christmas Child shoebox collection campaign is moving forward quickly with the holiday season just seven weeks away.
“Individuals, families, churches, businesses, sports teams, and community groups are now packing shoeboxes with toys, school supplies, and hygiene items, plus personal notes and photos, to be delivered to children in need around the world,” said the news release issued by Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief organization that works in more than 100 countries. “Operation Christmas Child is an annual initiative of Samaritan’s Purse. Last year, Canadians filled more than 415,000 shoeboxes with gifts that shared God’s love and hope with struggling children in West Africa, Central America, Ukraine and Philippines. In a world weighed down with inflation and the effects of war, children need joy more than ever.”
Southern Alberta residents are invited use a shoebox or a similar sized cardboard or plastic container, fill them with suitable gifts for a specific age and gender, and then donate a $10-per-box fee that covers shipping and program costs. Givers are encouraged to include a personal note and photo of themselves with their gifts. Canadians can also pack boxes online at PackABox.ca, which Frank King, news media relations manager with Samaritan’s Purse, described as an Amazon-style shopping experience. The giver picks their box and what items they’d like to purchase for it, and can upload a picture and note that will be packed into the box at the Calgary distribution centre. National Shoebox Collection week runs from Nov. 13-19, and each gift-filled shoebox is delivered to one of the hundreds of drop-off locations throughout Canada. From there the boxes are shipped to children in need. The news release described the huge scope of the project, saying, “Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and distributed more than 200 million shoebox gifts in more than 100 countries.”
“Struggling children and families need hope,” said Kendra Shields, director of Operation Christmas Child. “This is the essence of Operation Christmas Child. Every shoebox gift is an opportunity for a child to learn that he or she matters to Canadians and, most importantly, matters to God. That’s why I want everyone to help as many children in need as possible by packing shoeboxes.” The news release described Samaritan’s Purse as a “Christian relief and development organization that takes its name from Jesus Christ’s biblical story of the Good Samaritan. Like that Good Samaritan, who found a beaten man and helped restore him, we aid victims of war, disease, disaster, poverty, famine, and persecution. Besides Operation Christmas Child, our work includes providing safe water, vocational skills, and agricultural supplies and training to families in the developing world.”
The drop-off point will be Taber Evangelical Free Church, 5431 48 Avenue from Nov. 13-19, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 10 a.m. to noon on Sunday. Visit SamaritansPurse.ca for more information.