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Christmas comes early in a shoebox

By October 27, 2022No Comments

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for the annual Operation Christmas Child campaign in Lloydminster and area.

The project goal is to fill as many shoeboxes as possible with gifts to send to disadvantaged kids in developing countries of the world.

“We’d like to do 2,500. We did just over 2,100 last time,” said volunteer Ruby Trudel, the logistical coordinator who works with businesses in the area to support the campaign.

“It’s for Lloydminster and the surrounding area like Paradise Valley, Maidstone, Lashburn and Dewberry that is always extremely generous, and St. Paul is always generous.”

The charity drive is time sensitive with shoebox collection taking place from Nov.14-19 for delivery to Calgary at no charge by B&R Eckels Transport Ltd. in Lloydminster. 

Shoeboxes are available for pick up now at Spiro’s Restaurant, Silverwood Toyota, Sobeys and Walkn on Water and Your Dollar Store With More, which also sells filled boxes.

The local project is assisted by Len Hyatt, who deals with participating churches, and Alana Rohatyn, who liaises with schools in the public and Catholic divisions in the city and surrounding communities that pitch in every year.

“It’s a really important thing to introduce children to in such an affluent country as Canada to the fact there are children with absolutely nothing to spark their compassion,” said Trudel.

Traditionally, a shoebox is packed with fun toys, hygiene items and school supplies for boys and girls from groups aged 2 to-4, 5 to 9 and 10 to 14.

People are asked to include a quality “wow” item like a plush toy or doll for a girl or a soccer ball and a pump for a boy.

Operation Christmas Child is run by Samaritan’s Purse, a humanitarian organization that asks gift-givers to include a $10 donation by cash, cheque or online to help offset international delivery costs.

They know from experience that what’s inside a shoebox may be the only present a child receives for Christmas.

That’s what makes helping out so rewarding for Trudel and her support team including local sponsors.

“One of the most thrilling things is when the children who are now adults come back and tell us how meaningful those boxes were, how it changed their life and the hope it gave them,” said Trudel.

“They are living in these desperate circumstances and somebody that they didn’t even know cared enough to put together a box of things they would have never had otherwise,”

She says it gives them joy and so much hope.

Filled shoeboxes can be dropped off at Safeway, Spiro’s Restaurant, Silverwood Toyota, Sobeys and Walkn on Water and Southridge Community Church.