More than 1,000 shoeboxes are expected to be packed in the Stettler area this month for needy Third World children through Operation Christmas Child.
Boxes are currently available at Stettler Alliance Church, with Collection Week from Nov. 19 to 25.
“In 2011, Stettler and surrounding communities sent 901 boxes, and this year, we ordered in 600 ready-to-fill shoeboxes, and received a double shipment in error,” said Christy Brennan, church co-ordinator for the project.
“So I guess that makes our new goal of 1,200.”
Local shoeboxes will be distributed by Samaritan’s Purse to children in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Venezuela, Paraguay, Guinea and Equatorial Guinea.
“Along with Operation Christmas Child, this is your opportunity to bring joy and hope to children in desperate situations around the world,” Brennan said.
“Many of the children who receive a shoebox are given the first gift they have ever received.”
Since it began in 1990, Operation Christmas Child will send its one-millionth shoebox this Christmas.
Boxes will be accepted during Collection Week at the Alliance Church from Monday to Friday from 8:20 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For a final wrap-up, the church will host a packing party on Nov. 24 at 6:30 p.m.
“Feel free to bring all your purchased items — if you haven’t packed them yet — to the church and we’ll pack our shoeboxes together and enjoy and evening of fun, prayer and hot chocolate,” Brennan said.
Boxes can be designated for a girl or a boy, ages two to four years old, five to nine, or 10 to 14.
A box can be filled with a well-balanced variety of items of school supplies, toys and other gifts such as stuffed animals, small musical instruments, hair clips, toy jewelry, T-shirts, socks, candy (loose, individually wrapped hard candy in a sealable bag), hygiene products and personal items.
Contributors are asked not to pack toothpaste, food and any chewy, crumbly, or soft candy, used items, playing cards, liquids that could leak, melt, freeze or break, and items that could scare or harm a child.
Those packing a shoebox are also urged to donate a minimum $7 for each shoebox to help cover project costs, including shipping.
For more information on Operation Christmas Child, phone Stettler Alliance Church at 403-742-1135, or visit the program website at samaritanspurse.ca.