October 21st, 2020

Operation Christmas Child helps the less fortunate

By Bobinec, Greg on December 2, 2019.

Herald photo by Greg Bobinec
Volunteers with Park Meadows Church help load the hundreds of boxes filled with gifts to be delivered to children in Africa as part of their annual Operation Christmas Child, Saturday morning. @GBobinecHerald

Greg Bobinec

Lethbridge Herald


Over the last month, community members throughout southern Alberta have collected items in a shoebox to be shipped overseas for children in developing countries.

The annual Operation Christmas Child is an international initiative to give back to less fortunate countries, and give some holiday spirit to children who may have never received a present before. Saturday morning, a crew of volunteers loaded up a truck, donated by Western Trade Winds, and truck driver Greg Ball drove it to Calgary where the gifts will be flown off.

“We are loading up all of the boxes that have come in over the past collection week and these are going to be sent to the Samaritan Purse Warehouse in Calgary,” says Esther Vonkenan, volunteer with Operation Christmas Child.

“It has been great, we have had a lot of new people trying out making the boxes for the first time, it’s been great to meet everyone in the community who wants to help out, and it has been very well received. Last year we had 5,400 shoe boxes donated, so we are hoping for the same but we are always happy with any donations made.”

For many children who live in desperate situations around the world, such as war, famine, or poverty, the gifts are a reminder that they are loved and not forgotten. Many of the items that southern Albertans have chosen for the children will help bring them joy, entertainment, as well as useful items to help them in their lives.

“These boxes are going to be going to most likely western Africa and South America,” says Vonkenan. “There are so many different things that people have donated such as school supplies, toiletry items, toys and even some tools for the older children. There is a lot of stuff you can put in your boxes.”

With many charities in the community encouraging people to help less fortunate locally, Vonkenan says it is always good to take it further and help people throughout the world, and says it is a good initiative for children to get involved with not only to learn about giving back, but also to give them a chance to give back to kids their age.

“We are so fortunate here, to give to people who have nothing, it is a good way for them to give back,” says Vonkenan. “This is a good opportunity for people and their children especially, to have the chance to give to others who are less fortunate. One of the things that we have seen is that children really love to make these boxes and it is a good way to teach them to give to someone else.”

Although the southern Alberta Operation Christmas Child initiative has finished for the season, shoeboxes are still available for purchase online. If you would like to continue supporting the Operation Christmas Child this holiday season, visit samaritanspurse.ca.

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The giver of these gifts may sincerely believe that the recipients are “loved and not forgotten”; however, the following article, written from a Christian perspective, disagrees entirely: