Operation Christmas Child is back

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October 20, 2016 1:46 PM

PACKAGING WISHES Ken Hastings, area coordinator for Operation Christmas Child, packs up shoeboxes at the collection centre last year. Lloydminster filled 4,032 boxes in 2015, a 10 per cent increase over the previous year.

Operation Christmas Child is back and again people are encouraged to pick up shoeboxes, fill ‘em full of gifts and send ‘em to children in less fortunate countries, so everyone around the world can have a great Christmas.
Ken Hastings, area coordinator for the Lloydminster Christmas Child team, explained the importance of the yearly initiative and the reasons it feels good to get involved.
“Two things: on this end we realize when people give gifts to children in need, it does something within them; it’s a great feeling to give a gift with no strings, no connections, just knowing what you put in that box will make a significant difference in that child’s life by giving them a gift of joy, of hope, of happiness,” he said.
“That does something to the giver, I notice it in a lot in schools and talking to the kids, they talk of having a really good feeling inside them when they’re filling the shoebox.”
The other positive aspect is the happiness Operation Christmas Child brings to the children on the receiving end of the shoebox, which Hastings has witnessed first hand when he’s personally delivered the gifts to kids in other countries.
It’s not the contents of the box that has the most impact either, said Hastings, but the realization that someone in another part of the world, who doesn’t even know the name of that child, cares enough to send them a gift.
“That impacts them in a significant way and I’ve been involved with this project long enough that I see seeds of hope being planted in children in other countries that have opened shoeboxes,” he said.
“That seed of hope, that if somebody cares enough about me, then maybe there’s hope for the future and how some of those children look back now, they’re leaders in their communities and they look back to a shoebox experience and say, ‘Yeah, that’s the moment that spurred me on to do bigger and better things for my own community in my own country.’”
This year, shoeboxes can be picked up at Your Dollar Store With More, Verses, Spiros Restaurant, with Safeway having boxes available after Oct. 10.
Southridge Church, the local collection centre, also has boxes available and the folks there are always happy to help new businesses and organizations who want to join in on the operation.
As for what goes into the boxes, first you have to choose whether you want the gifts to go to a boy or girl, and then choose from one of three age brackets, which are two to four, five to nine and 10 to 14.
“So once they’ve selected that, the first thing I would recommend is they find a toy or stuffed animal, no matter what age or gender that box is, it’s important, these are kids might not have had a chance to hold a real toy before, something like a soft cuddly toy that even a 14 year old girl or boy really warms up to, a toy is so important,” said Hastings.
“The next is school supplies, these boxes go to children, that in many cases, have very limited school supplies, so a pencil, a notepad and paper, and eraser, those are gifts that child will just scream in joy for and will make a significant impact on their ability to learn and get more out of their education.”
Hastings added health and hygiene items like a face cloth, a bar of soap, a toothbrush, are also really beneficial.
The last thing Hastings recommends is to find a Christmas card, or better yet, a picture of yourself to give that adds a personal touch to the gift.
“I’ve seen children when they’ve opened their shoebox, they’ve left everything behind and they’ve taken the picture of the person who filled that shoebox over to show their parents, because they take great joy in having a note or picture of the people,” Hastings said.
Collection week is from Nov. 14 to 20 and full boxes can be dropped off at Verses, Spiros and Southridge Church.

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