It doesn’t take much to make a difference in the lives of children living in poverty.
Perhaps no one knows that better than Audrey Howell and Darlene Rougeah. Every year, the Pitt Meadows mother and daughter donate hundreds of shoeboxes full of toys and goodies for Operation Christmas Child, providing poor children around the world with a chance to experience the joy of opening a gift on Christmas.
Howell and Rougeah are able to donate so much to Operation Christmas Child because of their savvy shopping skills. The pair race around town trying to find the best bargains from the sale bins at stores.
Using very simple things and in simple ways, the pair have discovered how to be creative in making a Christmas shoebox.
Film containers with a decorative stickers on the outside can contain paper clips, tacks, pins, and elastics. Plastic Easter eggs can hold hair clips, burettes, candy, or foam craft pieces.
Howell also hand-makes hundreds of decorative beaded necklaces and bracelets for the children.
Darlene says her mother grew up poor in a large family, and having lived through the depression, she knew what it was like to go without.
After learning about Operation Christmas Child, the pair decided to help children have a least one Christmas in their lives and to give them joy and pleasure of a Christmas gift, wrapped up in an Operation Christmas Child shoebox.
“It brings us immense pleasure,” says Rougeah. “It also keeps us occupied in doing something productive. There is no time for boredom.”
Last year, close to 650,000 shoe boxes were collected across Canada. This year Operation Christmas Child hopes to collect more than 8.2 million shoeboxes from 100 countries worldwide.
Operation Christmas Child first started taking donations in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows in 2000, and since, local residents have helped provide a Christmas for more than 27,000 children.
This year, Christmas Child is hoping to collect 3,500 shoeboxes locally this season.
For more information about Operation Christmas Child, visit www.samaritanspurse.ca.
• Shoeboxes can be dropped off at the Maple Ridge Baptist Church on the corner of 222nd Street and Lougheed Highway from now until Sunday, Nov. 27, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 604-467-9794.
Packing a Shoe Box
How to pack a Shoe Box:
• find an empty shoe box;
• choose to pack your shoe box for a boy or a girl, ages 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14;
• fill your shoe box with a well-balanced variety of school supplies, toys, and hygiene products, as well as a personal note (please do not include any food items or anything that could break, leak, melt, or scare and harm a child);
• make a donation of $7 for every shoe box you pack to help cover project costs and shipping (donations can be made at samaritanspurse.ca or enclose a cheque in your shoe box);
• find the nearest shoe box collection center location at samaritanspurse.ca/occ;
• pack shoe boxes and support the rebuilding work Samaritan’s Purse is doing in Haiti (please consider packing an additional shoe box online this year at samaritanspurse.ca/shoebox and it will be given to a child in need in Haiti.