On a recent trip to Kenya, Kristal Reid learned about the challenges facing some African children and how what North Americans consider small gifts or tokens are treasures for children who have nothing.
“I had the privilege of being in Kenya, Africa and having seen what these kids’ lives are like, I would recommend that people donate educational tools. They just love to learn and to be educated,” said Reid, giving some ideas for Operation Christmas Child donations. The annual operation sees people filling a regular-sized shoe box with a variety of gifts for a boy or a girl, ages two to four, five to nine or 10 to 14. Each box is sent to a child abroad living in an impoverished country, where even small gifts like a pack of pencil crayons, a bar of soap, a toy car and pencils are appreciated.
While toothpaste is not allowed to be sent in boxes, toothbrushes are always a good item to include, said Reid, adding that socks are always appreciated and will be well worn. Gifts like noise makers or small harmonicas are fun for the children too.
“Also just write a little note to the kids letting them know about our lives here in Canada,” said Reid, explaining that Canadian children have many opportunities to learn about life in Africa through the Internet or the news but not all African children may know about life here.
Reid said that 600 empty boxes have been handed out to participating schools and organizations but she is hoping to get another 500 from Samaritan’s Purse International Relief, which organizes the effort, to distribute in the community.
“It is just really amazing to see how many boxes have gone out,” said Reid. “This might be one of the top years for donations.”
Reid explained that local organizers are also happy to accept filled shoeboxes or backpacks.
Although the deadline to drop off Christmas boxes is not until Nov. 16, she said that boxes are coming in already. Filled boxes and backpacks should be dropped off to Ideal Carpets located on main street in St. Paul.
New this year, people can also go online to Samaritan’s Purse website to pack and send a box online at http://www.samaritanspurse.ca/occ/. The website asks people to consider packing an additional shoebox online to be sent to a child in need in Haiti, to support the rebuilding work the organization is doing in the poverty-stricken and disaster-hit country.