Operation Christmas Child results have come in from their campaign held this past Christmas season. Carla Hemingway is Community Relations Coordinator for the area and notes Portage gave 250 more shoeboxes to be packed for children overseas than the previous campaign. 

"This year for Portage and area, we collected 1833 shoe boxes. Last year we did just over 1500," says Hemingway. "So, we're really excited about that."

She explains the shoe boxes are packed with school supplies, hygiene items, toys, and stuffed animals. They're then sent to children in other countries who otherwise may never have another gift in their lifetimes, and might not be able to go to school without donated school supplies. 

"This past year, the boxes went to over 100 different receiving countries worldwide," continues Hemingway. "The ones from Canada go to West Africa, Central America, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia."

"Our overall number for Manitoba did just about 100 less, but in Canada, it's up over 10,000, and across the world, I think it was about 700,000 more boxes this year than last year," adds Hemingway. "It is also about spreading the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ to kids who haven't heard it, otherwise."

She explains their processing centre for Western Canada is in Calgary, and local volunteers have visited to see the centre and volunteer.

"Once our boxes are collected here, they go to Calgary, and every one is looked at, to make sure there's nothing in there that can't go to certain other countries," notes Hemingway. "Sometimes, people even want to send food that's not going to last."

She notes it's a great opportunity for volunteers to visit the centre, and she hopes to make a visit this November/December for the first time. They help the precious effort in making sure that the boxes don't have anything that can't go, and are at least three quarters full. If they're not that full, they will add a little bit, but they never take anything out."

Hemingway says another processing centre for Eastern Canada is in Ontario, and the USA has several. 

Hemingway outlines some ideas you might consider for their next campaign. 

"If you have never packed a shoe box, I'd love you to try it this year for the first time. If you've ever packed one, it would be great to just pack one more and the increase would be phenomenal," adds Hemingway. "I never stopped shopping and thinking about shoe boxes; there are Christmas sales, or February 15th is a great day to shop for Valentine items. You can add it to the shoe box at half the price. So, I do it all year long."

They begin collecting the boxes in the third week of November and they're hoping to collect at the mall again. 

"I'd like to say a huge thank-you to all the volunteers who help year-round with Operation Christmas Child. and all the churches and other organizations that have been involved and support this ministry. Thank you!"