Christmas Shoebox program aims for overseas smiles

Operation Christmas Child enables a global gift sharing between poorer and wealthier countries

Christmas morning will be a joyous time for most in the Columbia Valley, and to share the feeling around the world, Operation Christmas Child enables a global gift sharing between poorer and wealthier countries.

“We’re all very fortunate to be living in the country we live in; we have all kinds of different freedoms and opportunities,” said Trudi Wells, who operates the local chapter. “We’re all blessed enough to provide things to people in these other countries that they don’t have or that aren’t readily available to them.”

Those who would like to participate need only to fill a shoebox with children’s toys, specific to a particular age and gender, along with five dollars for postage. Collection week in the valley happens November 18th through 24th, with headquarters at the Lake Windermere Alliance Church on 10th Avenue in Invermere.

Any shoebox will work, and additional boxes can be picked up at Canadian Tire, Red Apple, Selkirk TV and Appliance, the Windermere Valley Christian Assembly, as well as the Alliance Church.

Along with toys, hard candy and plastic jewelry, recipients would also benefit from clothing and hygiene products, except toothpaste. Donors can also write a note to the recipient. Used items, playing cards, and violent toys cannot be shipped.

“There’s nothing worse than thinking you’ve done something good and then have half of your stuff taken,” said Ms. Wells.

Ms. Wells encourages gifts that represent Canada, such as symbols of the maple leaf.

“If you’ve never made a shoebox before, try one for the first time,” she said. “They’re very fun and it’s highly addictive to see how much stuff you can pack into them,” she said. “If you only do one shoebox normally, challenge yourself to do two, maybe one for a boy and one for a girl.”

Three schools in the valley — Windermere Elementary School, Edgewater Elementary, and David Thompson Secondary School — are participating in Operation Christmas Child this year.