Friday, November 19, 2010

Operation: Christmas Child

No cute kiddies to shop for this Christmas? It's just not the same when you don't have a child to shop for at Christmastime, is it?

Shoeboxes of Christmas cheer for a boy and a girl!

And yet, there are millions of children living in poverty around the world who won't receive a gift this Christmas. Hmmm.

Samitarian's Purse organizes the distribution of shoeboxes full of new toys, trinkets, candies and school supplies from people like you and I to children living in abject poverty around the world through "Operation: Christmas Child".

The website provides packing lists (recommended items) for boys or girls in three age ranges: 2-4 years, 5-9 years or 10-14 years old. One of the biggest requirements for children living in impoverished countries are school supplies. This one was a bit of a shock to me - I seriously had trouble believing that a 8 year old boy would be excited by pencils and coiled notebooks! But it's exactly what is needed; without school supplies, a child cannot attend school. I'm sure kids around here would simply deep-six their backpacks off local bridges if it meant being able to skip school, but in places like Nicaragua, Sierra Leone and Uruguay there's probably not much else worth doing if you're not in school with your classmates. (The aforementioned countries are some of the places that boxes from Canada get distributed to - each giving country tends to cover certain regions to ensure even distribution. For a list of where the boxes go and other FAQ's, follow this link).

Collection week is November 15th to the 21st at various centres (i.e. Ingledews downtown), so if you'd like to get a box together, now is the time to make haste!

Hit up the dollar store, Daiso/YokoYaya1-2-3 and the like - I promise it won't take long to get enough to fill a box! And if you're a skilled shopper, you can pack a box for around $20 with everything a kid could need. Simple toys from your fond childhood memories are no-brainers, and it feels really good to pass on those games to someone else.

A Christmas shoebox for a 5-9 year old girl
Important items to include are hard candies (can't be the soft, melty type - no chocolates); pencils, pens and notebooks; small stuffed animals or toys; hair clips; socks; t-shirts; toothbrushes and combs; and soap (only if in a Ziploc bag so it won't melt and ruin the gift!). Look here for the "how to pack a box" instructions. There's a list of things you can't include (including toothpaste due to customs rules!) as well.

For a 5-9 year old boy - my favourite is the harmonica.
They even encourage you to write a personal letter and include a photo of yourself for the child to receive.

Samaritan's Purse asks that a minimum donation of $7 accompany every box (either pay online or include a cheque in your box - boxes are inspected before final shipping) to cover the shipping and distribution costs involved.

You can decorate your boxes (I painted one and wrapped the other using wrapping scraps leftover and reused from last Christmas) however you like. It's one of those TV-style wrapping jobs, where the lid is wrapped separately for ease of access (ever noticed that in movies and sitcoms? They undo the ribbon and lift the lid - rarely any tearing of paper. It must take too long). The volunteers and customs agents have to have easy access, so keep it in mind. I think wrapping a detachable lid separately has it's advantages; you don't need as big a piece of paper, and you can have different paper on the top than the bottom and still make it look tidy!

This is the first year we've put together shoeboxes, and it's been a lot of fun to choose toys and goodies. The trouble is trying to fit it all into a shoebox! Friends of mine have done this every year for ages, and they feel it just isn't Christmas without the shoeboxes.

There's a special emphasis on getting gifts to Haiti this year as well, so please consider putting together a gift package for someone who would desperately need some Christmas cheer! I think you'll enjoy putting it together almost as much as they'll enjoy receiving it.

1 comment:

  1. Talk about short notice! Been a busy week - you've got 2.5 days to put a box together, but believe me you can fill a box in a single afternoon no problem! ;)