Just a few basic supplies – a toothbrush, bar of soap, pencils and crayons – packed into a shoebox can make all the difference.
Those are some of the items that Operation Christmas Child is seeking again this year to help kids in needy parts of the world.
“It does make a difference in their lives as it gives a glimmer of hope and love and they know that someone far away loves and cares about them,” said Barb Gustafson who’s in charge in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows area for collecting donations.
Last year, people from this area packed up 3,702 shoeboxes in a Canada-wide effort, in which more than 730,000 shoeboxes were given out around the world.
This year, organizers are hoping that people in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows can put together 4,000 Christmas shoeboxes.
The packages will be sent to Chile, El Salvador, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Uruguay, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Haiti, Sierra Leone and Ukraine.
Sheila Desborough, from Pitt Meadows, went to Senegal in June to help with the distribution of the shoeboxes.
The Canadian branch of Operation Christmas Child is the only one that sends volunteers (who pay their own way) abroad to help with giving out the gifts.
Seeing the effects firsthand is a great motivator.
“These kids probably don’t have any other presents in their lives – ever,” Desborough said.
“It was humbling, I think is the word, to see these children who are so poor, they don’t get much at all.”
She was involved in eight distributions of boxes, usually in schools, churches or villages.
She added that donors should always try to include a variety of items.
However, stuffed toys are a particular favourite for kids, she said.
“It was wonderful to go and see them open,” the boxes.
• Samaritan’s Purse Canada is an evangelical Christian organization that provides spiritual and physical aid around the world.
The Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child Drop Off date is Monday, Nov. 14 through Sunday, Nov. 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Maple Ridge Baptist Church at 222nd Street and Lougheed Highway.