Petes asking fans to pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child (October 7, 2014)

Written by Mike Davies

Published by Peterborough Examiner on Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Photo courtesy of Peterborough Examiner

Peterborough Petes fans can help improve Christmas for underprivileged children in Africa and South America through Operation Christmas Child.

Petes trainer Brian Miller is spearheading the project which involves packing shoeboxes with toys, school supplies and other gifts for children who might otherwise go without at Christmas.

It's a charity run through Samaritan's Purse, founded by Franklin Graham - son of Rev. Billy Graham - more than 35 years ago. A number of area churches have supported the effort raising as many as 7,000 boxes locally at its peak.

"I thought it would be nice to take it to a larger scale and introduce a larger portion of Peterborough to it," said Miller, whose four children have been stuffing shoeboxes for several years.

"We have a nice audience in the hockey world with the Petes. I thought maybe we could use a Petes hockey game to promote it and get more shoeboxes collected in the Peterborough area."

Tables will be set up in the lobby for fans to pick up shoeboxes Nov. 6 when the Petes host North Bay. The boxes will be collected Nov. 15 when Niagara visits the Memorial Centre. If necessary, an additional collection will be held Nov. 20 versus Sault Ste. Marie.

The idea was inspired, Miller says, by the success of the annual Petes Teddy Bear Toss. That event provides stuffed toys to local children through the Salvation Army. This project, says Miller, crosses international borders. In 2014, shoeboxes will be distributed in Uruguay, El Salvador, Guatemala, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, Venezuela, Equatorial Guinea, Costa Rica, Guinea, Haiti, Nicaragua, Chile (including Easter Island) and Senegal.

"I see how gracious Petes fans are with the Teddy Bear Toss and I thought this would be something along that line but this is something that could be a little more personal." said Miller.

Samantha Cameron, past OCC regional director, said it's become personal for her children.

"Twice my daughters put letters in the boxes and received letters back," Cameron said. "That was a real personal thing for them that makes it real."

She called the opportunity to partner with the Petes "enormous."

"You have people who come to watch the games who maybe have still never heard of this," Cameron said. "This gives them the opportunity to hear about it and be a part of it. It blesses the giver as well as the receiver."

Shoeboxes should be personalized for a boy or girl in the age groups of 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14. Items to pack can include school supplies, toys, personal hygiene items and a personal note.

Due to customs regulations do not pack toothpaste; food and chewy, crumbly, or soft candy Including gum; used items; playing cards (card games such as UNO are allowed); liquids or items that could leak, melt, freeze or break like shampoo, creams, lip balm, bath gels, mirrors, glass or items that can scare or harm children like war-related toys, knives and toy guns.

Samaritan's Purse has worked in more than 100 countries providing humanitarian aid such as the provision of safe water, food, clothing, shelter, medical assistance and educational resources to impoverished communities. Their mandate is to help and comfort those in need, regardless of race, religion or gender.

Operation Christmas Child works with a national leadership team of local pastors and civic leaders representing several different denominations and organizations. The team identifies the children of greatest need and co-ordinates distribution.

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