Operation Christmas Child growing in Stettler region

Stacked high – Shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child are stacked at the Stettler drop-off centre at Stettler Alliance Church as pastor Scott Whitford and other volunteers arrange boxes on the final day of Collection Week on Nov. 21.

Stacked high – Shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child are stacked at the Stettler drop-off centre at Stettler Alliance Church as pastor Scott Whitford and other volunteers arrange boxes on the final day of Collection Week on Nov. 21.

Well over 700 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child were collected in the Stettler community for needy children in developing countries around the world.

“We had a great year collecting shoe boxes, with 384 of them coming in from the Stettler area churches, as well as the larger community,” said pastor Scott Whitford of Stettler Alliance Church.

Collecting 210 shoeboxes last year, he and other organizers were optimistic to double that figure this year for the project under Samaritan’s Purse.

Boxes come in from Big Valley, Donalda and the Bashaw area, Erskine and many other surrounding communities.

William E. Hay High School in Stettler also independently collected over 300 boxes as well.

“So in total, our greater area collected as much or more than 700 shoe boxes,” said Whitford.

Organizers are grateful for the local love extended in this campaign.

“I am so proud of the way our communities responded to the call to reach out to those around the world who are less fortunate than we are,” said Whitford.

“This is all the more meaningful as we are still coming through tougher economic times as a community.”

“It has been a great outpouring of compassion – what a great way to begin celebrating the Christmas season when we remember the greatest gift of all, the birth of Jesus Christ.”

Local shoeboxes from the Stettler area will be shipped to Latin American countries like El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico and others, filled with a variety of items such as toys, school supplies, and hygiene items, plus personal notes and photos.

“We are proud to work with such a great organization as Samaritan’s Purse that has earned world-wide respect and acclamation for it’s relief efforts and desire to provide life essentials to third-world countries and impoverished peoples, and even prouder to establish a stronger connection with our great community who have always responded generously to the needs around us,” said Whitford.

For many of these children, this is the first gift they have ever received.

Shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child open doors and create opportunities to provide other help for children, their families and their communities in the form of safe drinking water, initiatives for literacy and job skills, feeding programs and medical care.