Operation Christmas Child is in full swing with folks and families filling up shoe boxes to bless children in war-torn or third-world countries with their own special Christmas gift, all in the name of Jesus.

"This is in coordination with churches world-wide who deliver the gifts and get together with their communities and really reach out to show love to their community," explains Westman Area Coordinator, Katie Buhler.

Buhler says it's because of their incredible volunteers, project leaders, and shoe box packers across Westman that we reach that 3000 mark.  "I've been doing this for about 5 years and each year we manage to pack around 2500 to 3000 shoe boxes!"

Pre-Covid Westman donated approximately 3500 shoe boxes and that number has been climbing since the pandemic downfall of donations.  In 2022 they were about a dozen shoe boxes shy of 3000.  "So, we're really excited to see what this year will bring!"

To pack a shoe box, Buhler says to start with a WOW! gift, something that is very special and then fill in the corners and sides with smaller items. "First you pick the gender and the age group that you'd like to pack for, and then we say to start with the WOW! gift, so whether that's a sports ball or a doll, something that the child opens, and they can have with them for a long time. This means a lot."

"We also try to include school supplies and hygiene items," she notes. "Those can be very valuable and very practical.  In some countries kids can't afford to go to school, and so sometimes these school supplies can sometimes mean that they're now able to go to school and work more effectively."

"And then you can also include a special gift item, and lastly a personal note," adds Buhler. "You can even include your contact information like an email address on it if you want.  It's very exciting to hear back through email from someone across the world from the child or a parent of the child who has received your shoe box.  I've had that happen to me!  Google Translate works great for them to say a quick thank you."

"It's such a meaningful thing to be able to see the fruits of your labor and to make that connection with someone across the world!"

The iconic green Samaritans Purse Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes are available at a variety of locations in your community starting with most churches, as well as dollar-type stores.  You are also welcome to pack your own shoe box that you might have in your closet, however, do remember the box lids must be able to be opened so items can be checked for inappropriate items like liquids, army toys, toothpaste, etc. So, if you wrap your shoe box, do so in such a way that the lid can be lifted.

Last Christmas Canadian packed approximately 400,000 for children around the world, and in each box is a printed booklet that shares the love of Jesus!  The booklets share the story of Jesus in the language of the countries they are sent too and gives them opportunity to join a program being offered in their community to learn more.

"I just want to say these boxes mean so much to children and families around the world, especially in times like this where families are struggling," shares Buhler, "and it just means so much so a big thank you to everyone who volunteers, and packs shoeboxes, and who does it with their families year after year.  I just thank you for your faithfulness and your partnership!"

Next week is the final week for Operation Christmas Child with delivery to Brandon to take place on November 20th.  From there the boxes are shipped to Calgary at the central depot before being shipped to countries around the world.

Please listen to Katie Buhler below as she explains more on Operation Christmas Child!

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