Operation Christmas Child

Fill a shoebox to help someone enjoy a better Christmas this year.

Organizer Anna Cook

Organizer Anna Cook

While people prepare for winter and start to think about Christmas festivities volunteers are gearing up for the 24th annual Operation Christmas Child shoebox project.

The local branch of the international Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse collected 1,300 of the little gift boxes for children in the developing world last year and hope to beat that this year.

The local effort contributed to over 11 million collected world wide last year, totaling over 124 million over the years.

Local coordinator Anna Cook said they are looking for any donations, but especially school and hygiene items, toys and small gifts, that will be reorganized and sent to countries like Venezuela, Haiti, the Ukraine, Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea.

They are looking for school supplies like pens, pencils, erasers, note books etc. and any non-liquid hygiene items like combs, brushes and soap.

Meant for the holiday season, people could also include other fun small gifts like games or toys and some more personalized items like a note or photos.

“Most of us probably can’t remember the first gift we ever received, but to these children, the shoebox they receive filled with gifts will never be forgotten,” said a news release.

Cook invites the public to their official kickoff Thursday, Oct. 6, at 1:30 p.m. at the Parksville Fellowship Baptist Church, 550 Pym Street, for more information and an empty shoebox to fill.

There are also donation stations at most churches, elementary schools and many businesses.

People can pick up a box to fill or just drop off items before Nov. 14 for their long journey.