Canadians pack 30,000 more shoeboxes in Operation Christmas Child (January 26, 2016)

Written by Bill Kaufmann

Published by Calgary Sun on Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Refugee children fleeing Mideast violence are among those receiving gift shoeboxes collected in huge numbers by a Christian charity.

Operation Christmas Child, a program operated by Samaritan's Purse, is handing out a whopping 730,577 shoeboxes provided by Canadians in 2015 stuffed with toys, school supplies and hygiene items to a variety of countries in the developing world.

It's the second-largest number of the gift boxes collected in Canada, said a charity spokesman.

Some of them are going to war refugees in Iraq and those who have fled the region for Europe in the worst dispossession crisis in memory, said charity officials.

For the second-straight year, shoeboxes are also headed to those impacted by war in eastern Ukraine.

Samaritan's Purse says it's also supplied clothing, blankets and emergency food for Ukrainians.

Amid massive demand, the number of shoeboxes donated by Canadians has increased by at least 30,000, said Randy Crosson, director of Operation Christmas Child Canada.

"This is the second consecutive year that Canadians have packed at least 30,000 more boxes than the year before," he said.

"Each shoebox is a chance to show hurting children they are loved by God and by us, and the generosity of Canadians will once again bless children who likely have never before received a gift.

Last year, the charity" collected 11 million shoeboxes that were also destined for countries like Senegal, Guinea, El Salvador, Guinea Bissau, Uruguay, Haiti, Sierra Leone and Costa Rica.

The success of the effort in Calgary is a tribute to local generosity, said Samaritan's Purse's Frank King.

Of the Canadian boxes, 9,000 were packed online, a method that also allows for uploading personal photos and notes.

"The numbers are really huge, our donors really come through and that's who we have to thank," he said.

Since 1993, the charity's Operation Christmas Child has distributed more than 124-million gift-filled shoeboxes to kids in 130 countries ravaged by war, natural disaster, famine, disease and poverty.

They also provide vocational help and agricultural supplies.

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