Children in Ukraine open shoeboxes with gifts. (Special to The News)

VIDEO: Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows residents asked to fill shoeboxes for annual Christmas campaign

Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child collection week starts Nov. 14

Operation Christmas Child will be delivering shoeboxes to two new countries this year: the Philippines and Ukraine.

National collection week for the shoebox drive is coming up and local campaign organizer, Barb Gustafson is hoping the community can come together again this year to collect items to help thousands of children around the world.

“You might think it would be impossible to continue this ministry in a war zone but the dedicated partners have been unstoppable, reaching another 400,000 children through shoebox events since the fighting began,” said Barb Gustafson, organizer of the local shoebox drive.

Operation Christmas Child is an annual initiative of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and development organization, that has collected and hand-delivered almost 200 million gift-filled shoeboxes – with items like toys, school supplies, and hygiene items, plus personal notes and photos – to give to struggling children in more than 170 countries hurt by war, poverty, natural disaster, disease, and famine, since 1993. In previous years those countries have been located in West Africa and Central America.

Last year, residents in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows packed 5,056 shoeboxes for the campaign. Provincially, 53,789 shoeboxes were packed, and nationally, 413,875 – an increase of more than 40,000 boxes packed than in 2020.

READ MORE: Upcoming bottle drive to help children in need at Christmas

Samaritan’s Purse have been working in Ukraine since 1996 and since then has delivered 11.6 million shoebox gifts, noted Gustafson.

“This year, it’s more important than ever to reach children who have been traumatized by all the bloodshed, blasts, and sirens. The children need to know that we care about them and that they are not forgotten,” she added.

ALSO: Registration season starts for the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society

Everyone in the community is welcome to pack a shoebox. Instructions are given on the Samaritan’s Purse Canada website. Each shoebox should also include a $10 donation to cover shipping and other project costs like the collection of the shoeboxes, processing, and the training of local churches in each country to distribute shoeboxes effectively.

The shoeboxes can be dropped off during National Collection Week is Nov. 14 to 20, at Ridge Church, located at 222nd Street and Lougheed Highway in Maple Ridge. Dropoffs can be made from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information contact Barb at 778-881-9794 or go to samaritanspurse.ca.


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