This Christmas you could help bring smiles to the faces of children across the world.
Operation Christmas Child, an initiative of the Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, is now underway in Campbell River.
The community is encouraged to fill a shoebox with Christmas presents for underprivileged children in impoverished countries.
This year, shoeboxes from Western Canada will go to countries in Central and South America such as Sierra Leone, Haiti, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Uruguay and Nicaragua.
Recommended gifts for the shoeboxes include small toys, toiletries and school supplies for the children. Boxes can be packed for either a boy or a girl and for either a two to four-year-old, a five-to-nine-year-old or a 10-to-14-year-old.
Deana Longland, local organizer of Operation Christmas Child, said often the shoebox is the first Christmas present the child has ever received.
“It’s encouraging to them to know someone loves them and it brings them hope, joy and love,” Longland said.
Ultimately what goes in the box is up to the packer.
“Samaritan’s Purse feels that with each individual box that’s packed, each packer has a child in mind so the boxes aren’t altered,” Longland said.
Last year, Campbell Riverites were very generous Longland said, and sent 1,195 shoeboxes to children in South America.
This year the goal for Campbell River is 1,400. Canada-wide, 640,714 boxes were collected while 8.2 million were collected worldwide.
Campbell River schools, including Carihi, Cedar, the Christian school, Phoenix, Timberline and Sandowne are all on board with Operation Christmas Child and are helping to spread the word.
At Carihi, the Interact Club took it upon themselves to collect boxes. The class has 100 boxes to give out and it hopes to get 100 back, full of presents.
“We’ve been to all the classrooms and a lot of teachers didn’t know about it,” said Rhiaanah Villalobos, an Interact student and Longland’s daughter.
So far, the class has given out 80 boxes.
“It’s a good cause and kids in (third-world countries) don’t really get a Christmas,” said Emma Peachey, the president of the Interact class.
Longland and Villalobos will spend three days in December volunteering in the distribution centre in Calgary.
“We want to see the bigger picture,” said Longland.
To take part in Operation Christmas Child, pick up a shoebox from the Discovery Community Church (old Galaxy Theatre) or simply use any regular shoebox or plastic container.
Then drop off your box between Nov. 22 and Nov. 27 at the Discovery church (625 11th Ave.). Call the church at (250) 287-8786 for drop off times.
For more information about how to pack a shoebox visit samaritanspurse.org