The Operation Christmas Child shoebox campaign is underway.
Donations of Christmas shoeboxes are being collected next week, those packed with the necessities for a child, including school supplies, hygiene items, toys and a stuffed animal.
Barb Gustafson, organizer of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows campaign, is hoping to collect 4,000 boxes this year.
Last year, 3,765 boxes were collected.
Vicki Laleune has been volunteering with Operation Christmas Child for the past 10 years.
She fits it in with her time volunteering with Christmas Haven, the Lions Club, the Maple Ridge Cottage Second Hand Store, the Maple Ridge Auxiliary and helping children at the local elementary schools.
Last March, when she got the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica with Samaritan’s Purse Canada, the organization behind the campaign, and hand out a box in person for a dear friend.
Her friend couldn’t make the trip and asked Laleune give the box out for her.
Laleune saw a 14-year-old girl with a beautiful smile and long dark hair and decided to give the box to her.
The girl was overwhelmed with the items inside, especially the sparkly jewelery.
Laleune’s friend, another long-time volunteer with the shoebox campaign, passed away two months ago.
This year, Laleune has packed 100 boxes in her honour.
There is a list of 100 items that can be packed in the boxes.
Each box should contain a toy for the recipient, another toy for interaction with friends, hygiene items –including a bar of soap, washcloth and toothbrush, as well as school supplies, including paper, pens, pencils and pencil sharpeners.
Boxes cannot contain toothpaste, candy, medicine or food products.
This years, shoeboxes from the local organization will be going to West Africa and Latin America, specifically Nicaragua, Costa Rica and El Salvador.
Anyone wishing to donate can pack a shoebox for a child either two to four years old, five to nine or 10 to 14 years and bring along $10 to cover the cost of shipping at Maple Ridge Baptist Church, 22155 Lougheed Hwy. in Maple Ridge.Drop-offs are accepted Nov. 18 to 24, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.