Operation Christmas Child collection week returned

Operation Christmas Child returned to Strathmore, with boxes full of donations being collected at the Strathmore Alliance Church for distribution.

The fundraiser is part of Samaritan’s Purse, an organization which typically responds to disasters, or war, bringing much needed supplies to children and families.

Marianne Klassen, who volunteered her time to help with collection this year, said Strathmore tends to be a very generous community when collection week rolls around each year.

“Strathmore has been participating in the fundraiser for more than 20 years, and an official drop-off centre has been running for probably about nine,” she said. “Last year, I think we sent more than 600 boxes from Strathmore, and this year just up until yesterday (Nov. 16) we have collected 357 boxes.”

Generally speaking, Klassen recommended for those who are interested to budget around $30 to $40 to fill a box with supplies.

These can range from clothes, to hygiene articles, to school supplies, or toys. The recommendation is that what goes in will be able to be used by a child or a family.

“Some people put in maybe a hat or slippers, T-shirt, anything that can be useful for a child. And, there are different categories you can choose when you pack a box,” she explained. “You can choose either a boy or a girl, and then you can choose the age group from two-four, five-nine, or 10-14 years old, and then you can imagine what that particular child needs.”

This year, boxes collected from across Canada will be distributed between El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Senegal, Guinea, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Philippines, and Ukraine.

Food items are generally not accepted as part of donation boxes as they may either expire or make shipping more difficult upon leaving the country.

“Violent toys, sharps, liquids, candies, those things are not allowed to go to those countries either because especially Africa, some of those candies can melt and it can draw insects, rats or mice,” Klassen added.

Strathmore’s is currently the sole drop-off point for Wheatland County, with the next closest being in Drumheller, and in Calgary.

Collection is always during the third week of November, and the boxes are distributed throughout the year.

Klassen recommends for those who are interested in participating, an easy way to go about it is to collect small items for a donation box throughout the year and spread out the cost instead of adding something else to a shopping list right before Christmas.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times