Thank you to each of you, individuals and groups, who packed Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts this year. We packed 2,460 shoeboxes in Vernon and surrounding areas.
Shoebox gifts packed by Canadians will go to Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti and Nicaragua) and Africa (Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Sierra Leone), as well as the Ukraine.
In each country, Operation Christmas Child works with churches, charities and community groups to identify children with the greatest need and to coordinate distribution.
Approval is also sought to offer the children a colourful booklet in their language that describes the message of Christianity. However, the shoebox gifts are given unconditionally, regardless of faith or whether the community, parent or child chooses to accept the booklet.
Because of your generosity, 2,460 children living in desperate circumstances will receive a gift, many of them for the first and only time in their lives.
Let me share a story to give you an idea of the poverty in which these children live. Betty is a 10-year-old girl in Uganda who received a shoebox gift. She had had to miss a week of school because she did not own a pencil and could not afford to buy one (and schools in Uganda do not provide pencils for students).
In her shoebox gift, Betty received school supplies, giving her what she needed to attend school. Because many of the children who receive these shoebox gifts live in poverty, the gifts that they receive have little to no impact on local demand or economy.
These children, who have suffered or are suffering greatly, will know that someone has thought of them and packed them a gift with love, giving them hope for today. They have not been forgotten.
If you have any questions or concerns about Operation Christmas Child, please visit www.SamaritansPurse.ca/OCCFAQ. Operation Christmas Child staff are always willing to answer your questions, too. They can be reached at 1-800-303-1269.
A young mother in Costa Rica, whose children received Canadian shoebox gifts, has the following message for Canadians: “Keep doing what you’re doing. You’re bringing a lot of joy to kids and parents.” So thank you for your contributions this year. Please know that they will make a difference in children’s lives.