Thousands of shoe boxes full of presents for children in impoverished countries around the world have been pouring in for Operation Christmas Child.
Volunteers were working at the Campbell River drop-off centre, Discovery Community Church, over the weekend to pack up shoe boxes which were shipped off Tuesday to the distribution centre in Calgary.
Deana Longland, local Operation Christmas Child co-ordinator, said this year Campbell Riverites packed 1,404 shoe boxes – exceeding her goal of 1,400. The community also topped last year’s output of 1,287 boxes and the 2010 tally of 1,195 shoe boxes.
“Once again, Campbell River has shown its big heart by donating to Operation Christmas Child,” Longland said. “I’d like to thank the community for its generosity and support of such an incredible project to bring smiles to the faces of children.”
The shoe boxes were loaded onto a delivery truck Tuesday and will make their way to Calgary where they will be checked over and prepared for delivery.
Most of the shoe boxes will make their way by boat to children in either Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Venezuela, Paraguay, Guinea or Equatorial Guinea.
Longland said in most cases, such as in Costa Rica, immigration services at the shipping ports are shut down over Christmas, so the shoe boxes aren’t delivered until February of March.
For most of the children, the shoe box is the first Christmas present they’ve ever received.
“They’re so grateful and they’re so appreciative,” Longland said. “It’s nice they can receive something and sometimes they’re able to share it with other people.”
This year four local schools – Carihi, Phoenix, Southgate and Sandowne – contributed to Operation Christmas Child, which is an initiative of the Christian humanitarian organization Samaritan’s Purse.