When is a shoebox not just a shoebox?
Children with their shoeboxes of treasures
13/01/2009 04:25 PM
For most children, Christmas is one of the happiest times of the year but, for many around the world, it's just another day or time.
For more than 15 years, Operation Christmas Child has been part of Samaritan's Purse, a non-denominational program that has brought untold joy into the lives of children around the world with simple shoeboxes. These are not ordinary shoeboxes however, because they are filled with gifts.
Since 1993, over 60 million shoeboxes from 11 countries have been donated to children in 125 nations. Each shoebox is filled with items that appeal to boys and girls in every age group, from two to 14.
While toys are a big part of Christmas, to someone who has no pencils, no toothbrush, no washcloth or even a comb, lifting the lid of a shoe box filled with surprises can lift and delight the heart of any child.
South Bruce Program Co-ordinator, Joyce Scammell, tells of the little boy who lifted the lid and then immediately replaced it to lift it again. "He did this over and over simply to experience the joy of opening what, to him, was a treasure box."
According to Scammell, the goal in South Bruce is to collect 2,000 shoeboxes. The collection centre in this area is the Port of Fellowship Baptist Church on Hwy 21 in Port Elgin and collection week is November 24-29.
On November 26th at noon, Maurerís U-haul of Port Elgin will deliver the boxes to Shallow Lake Community Church and, from there, they will go to the central distribution center in Kitchener.
"This is totally a non-denominational effort that transcends religion, race, colour or nationality," says Scammell. "This is about children. For many of these children, opening a box and knowing that someone cares enough to give, is a sign of hope for them. Anyone contributing can also include a photo and short letter about themselves."
On September 28th, Dan Noble, Regional Manager for Western Ontario Operation Christmas Child, spoke at the Port of Fellowship Baptist Church where people from throughout South Bruce watched a slide presentation of a shoebox distribution in an African village. "We never go into a country or village without the permission of the government," he explained. "We help in many ways, including, sending over 9,000 volunteers to help out after Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast and we re-built over 3,000 homes after the Tsunami in Indonesia."
Dan Noble explains Samaritans Purse organization
"Regarding 'operation shoe box', the support from the community has always been amazing," says Scammell. "Schools and churches are participating as well as local businesses.
This year, Schendel & Sullivan shoes in Southampton is donating all their shoeboxes to anyone who wants them, as well as Square Deal Neil's. Volunteers are also always needed to help with packing and wrapping and, again, anyone can call me at 519-832-9193.
It doesn't take much to fill a shoe box but, for those with little or nothing in the way of even daily necessities, every item is a treasure. For anyone not sure about what to put in a shoebox, call 519-832-9193. Boxes, once filled, can be dropped off at 588 Elgin St., Port Elgin (behind the library).
School Supplies -- pens, pencils and a small sharpener, crayons, pencil crayons, writing pads or paper, solar calculator, coloring and picture books
Toys -- small cars, balls, dolls, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yo, skipping rope, small etch A Sketch, slinky
Hygiene Items -- toothbrush, mild bar soap (in a plastic bag), comb, washcloth, etc.
Other -- manufacture wrapped hard candy, T-shirts, socks, ball caps, sunglasses, hair clips, toy jewelry watches.
Things NOT to include:
No toothpaste (custom regulations)
No liquids or items that may leak, melt or freeze -- e.g. shampoo, gels, paint, cream, lip balm, liquid glue, etc.
No USED items
Nothing breakable -- glass, porcelain, mirrors, etc.
No items that may SCARE or Harm a child -- knives, war-related toys, toy guns, etc.