Operation Christmas Child is an annual initiative that collects gift boxes to send to children living in impoverished situations, including war, poverty and natural disaster.
Pamela Barry is the new organizer for the program, having been involved in it for nearly a decade.
“The radio in Cranbrook was running a little blurb on them needing help and I thought it was something I could do. I have five kids so we have probably done it for years,” said Barry. “This is something that the kids could enjoy with me. I do a lot of things on my own for volunteering but this is something that the kids could be involved with and help out with.”
People wanting to participate can pick up a box to pack and an instructional pamphlet, specifying what and how to pack the boxes. In the Elk Valley, there are six pick up stations: Kootenay Custom Interiors and Ann’s Your Independent Grocer in Fernie; Overwaitea Foods and the Bargain Shop in Sparwood; and the Community Credit Union and Western Financial Insurance in Elkford. Once the boxes are packed, drop them off at one of the drop off locations, same as listed above, with the exception of the Bargain Shop and Western Financial Insurance, by Nov. 16.
“There are different areas, we tried to get a couple of different locations in each area so people would have the option of different places to drop off, but some of them are smaller so they only have the one area to drop off,” said Barry, who is operating the initiative for the Southern Kootenay in Cranbrook. “They can pack a box, and they can pick it up in that location as well as, there are some that just only do pick up and then they can drop it off at one of those locations.”
Barry and her team will collect all the boxes from the area in Cranbook and pack them into cubes where they will be shipped to Calgary, checked one last time, and then distributed to third world countries.
Barry noted that boxes could be packed for specific age groups and genders, making more customized gift boxes for children.
“Be sure to grab a pamphlet with it because that has your information on how to pack a box and what you’re allowed to because this year Canada can’t get boxes across the border with candy in them,” she said. People are also encouraged to enclose $7, which is the cost of shipping a box overseas, but it is not a requirement.
Barry is hoping to send more boxes than they did in prior seasons. “This year we are aiming for 3000, but we are hoping to get a bit more than that,” she said.
“Last year, we had 2700, so we are hoping to get more than that. We have put about 4000 into the communities.”
For more information on Operation Christmas Child, visit Samaritanpurse.ca