Community

Give a gift box for a child in need

Barb Gustafson displays some of the items collected for the program Operation Christmas Child. People can drop off a shoebox with gifts at the Maple Ridge Baptist Church starting Nov. 19 and running until Nov. 25. Collection takes place between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. - Tim Fitzgerald
Barb Gustafson displays some of the items collected for the program Operation Christmas Child. People can drop off a shoebox with gifts at the Maple Ridge Baptist Church starting Nov. 19 and running until Nov. 25. Collection takes place between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
— image credit: Tim Fitzgerald

Christmas is just over a month away and the push is on to help out kids across the world who would otherwise go without a present.

The Canada-wide 2012 Operation Christmas Child shoebox collection season kicks off locally Nov. 19 to 25 at the Maple Ridge Baptist Church, located on 222nd Street and Lougheed Hwy. Gifts can be dropped off between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Barb Gustafson, who’s helping organize the program in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, said the goal is to collect 3,500 shoe-boxes, which  will make a long journey to the outstretched hands of a needy child in Haiti, South and Central America, and West Africa.

Gustafson, who has travelled twice to Nicaragua and once to Bolivia to hand out presents on this goodwill mission, said it’s gratifying to be able to help out the less fortunate.

Last year, Canadians filled 672,274 shoe boxes, of which Ridge Meadows collected 3,075 .

Gustafson is hoping the local residents can make time to fill a box and drop it off. Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes are available at the Dollar Giant on 207th Street and Haney Place Mall. While gifts for kids between the ages of five to 14 are always welcome, Gustafson noted that older boys tend to get overlooked.

“A soccer ball goes a long to bringing miles and miles of fun for these kids,” she said.

Alongside the gifts, Gustafson said some candy is also a nice touch. However, she said items like soccer balls should be deflated, and gifts should be durable enough to make the long trips abroad.

“One small gesture goes a long way to bringing happiness to a child at Christmas,” noted Gustafson.

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