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Annual Christmas shoebox campaign now underway

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With Christmas less than three months, “Operation Christmas Child,” the annual shoebox campaign, is underway.

The campaign, conducted by Samaritan’s Purse, sends shoeboxes full of small gifts to children in countries ravaged by war, famine, and natural disasters.

Area churches, schools, and residents all have contributed to the success of the program in the past, with students at some schools here participating nearly every year.

Local organizers this year are Evelyn Rawn and Linda Weir. Rawn said she will be spreading the word of the campaign at local churches and schools in the near future.

Information pamphlets are available at local churches and schools, as well as at the customer service counter at Canada Safeway.

“Operation Christmas Child” shoeboxes will be available at Safeway sometime next week, said Rawn, though stressing people don’t have to use those specific shoeboxes—they can use any shoebox or reusable container of roughly the same size.

The process to put together a shoebox to send is simple: take a regular shoebox with a lid, wrap it in Christmas paper or decorate it (optional), fill it with gifts, and put a cheque for $7 on top to cover project costs, including shipping.

Some suggested gifts include toys like small cars, balls, stuffed animals, jump ropes, and yo-yos, as well as small musical instruments like harmonicas and kazoos.

The children also can use practical items like pens, pencils and sharpeners, crayons or pencil crayons, colouring books, and writing pads, as well as hygiene items like toothbrushes, combs, washcloths, and mild bar soap in plastic.

Other appropriate items to send are hard-wrapped candy, ball caps, socks, hair clips, T-shirts, and small picture books.

It is important not to include toothpaste (due to Customs regulations), any food items (except hard-wrapped candy), any used items, or anything that could melt, freeze, leak, break, or scare or harm a child.

Using a label, you also can indicate whether the box is intended for a girl or a boy, and whether the gifts inside are intended for a child aged two-four, five-nine, or 10-14.

Prepared boxes can be dropped off at Safeway. The collection deadline for the shoeboxes is the week of Nov. 24-29.

Individuals and local service groups looking for more information can contact Rawn at 274-9462 or Weir at 274-6691. You also can get more information at www.samaritanspurse.ca

Last season, 661,530 shoeboxes from Canada were collected and distributed to children in more than 100 countries.

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