It is that time of year again.
Operation Christmas Child is back up and sleighing, prepared to bring the joy of Christmas to children worldwide.
The idea is that an individual will pack a shoebox for boys and girls who live in war-torn areas or where they probably will not get a gift.
"This will probably be their only gifts that they get, and quite often, they are overjoyed to think that a stranger would pack a gift for them," says Eileen Warthe, the Area Coordinator for the Operation.
Shoeboxes can be taken to the Portage Mall starting Wednesday, November 16th, until Friday, November 18th, from 10 a.m. until 5:45 p.m. and then again on Saturday, November 17th, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
"There's still time to pack a shoebox. If you haven't packed this shoebox, you can also go online and pack a box online."
Warthe, who has been a part of the program for ten-plus years, highlights that her favourite part of the operation is getting to deliver them.
"I remember one time, a father was just so overwhelmed emotionally. He said, 'Just go home and just say thank you, thank you, thank you.' He could not believe that there would be people who would pack a shoebox with gifts," continues Warthe. "It's more than just a gift that goes in these boxes. These children also get an opportunity to come back and do a discipleship program."
She adds that it is a moving experience getting to go to other countries, handing out these shoeboxes to children, and seeing their eyes light up.
"One of the things that I encourage people to do is to put a picture in. Because with that picture, they will hang onto it because they will know that, 'Hey, those people cared enough to pack this for me.'"
Warthe suggests that school supplies, toiletries and clothes are the basics for a shoebox.
"Then put a wild gift in it--Something that grabs you that you might think that child might like. I remember when I was in Paraguay, a girl got a calculator. It was when their parents didn't have any money or anything to replace the one she had, and somebody had put in a trig calculator. She ended up using that calculator when she went on to higher education. It was the gift that she needed, and it was in there. So, I tell people, whatever it is that sparks your interest."
The Coordinator notes that this year's shoeboxes are going to places like Ukraine, the Philippines, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Senegal, and Gambia.