Williams Lake church collecting shoebox gifts for children in poverty, war zones

There’s still time to drop off Christmas shoebox gifts at the Evangelical Free Church in Williams Lake.

Operation Christmas Child by Samaritan’s Purse sends shoeboxes to children in poverty or war zone areas and has been in operation since 1993.

Last year, Evangelical Free Church sent around 480 boxes out, said Kathy Shetler, who has been volunteering with the project for three years now, although helping out since the 90s.

People are encouraged to fill their shoebox with a child in mind, either aged two to four, five to nine or 10 to 14.

Suggested items to give are school supplies, personal hygiene items such as a toothbrush and soap, small games, crafts or activities and clothing such as socks, tuques and mittens. Liquids, breakables and war-type toys are not allowed.

Boxes are collected, often by churches and schools, and sent to Calgary for sorting to ensure the boxes are appropriate, then shipped out across the world, including to Ukraine, Philippines, Central America and West Coast Africa, said Shetler.

Participants can also include a $10 donation if they wish, which covers costs like shipping and plane fuel. As for the ground workers, most of them are volunteers.

Once distributed, churches often host parties for children to come and receive their gifts and learn about Jesus through a program called The Greatest Journey.

You can use your own shoebox or pick one up from many of the churches around town. Kit and Kaboodle also has shoeboxes available. Additionally, you can also use a shoebox-sized Tupperware container, which kids love receiving as much as what’s inside, said Shelter, for now they have a box to store their stuff in. Once filled, an elastic band can be used to keep the box shut.

“Time is short, but we’d love to get as many boxes as we can from the Williams Lake area.”

Drop off your shoebox at Evangelical Free Church at 1100 11 Avenue North by Sunday, Nov. 19. They will be sent out the following day.

Kim Kimberlin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Williams Lake Tribune