KAMLOOPS — Shoebox collections for Operation Christmas Child are taking place this week.
The Samaritan's Purse program encourages people to fill boxes with toys, school supplies, and hygiene items for children in need.
More than 146 million shoeboxes have been shipped out to more than 100 countries since 1993.
"Many of these children are refugee children, they're orphans, they don't have a family, they've never received a gift at all," said Indira Rempel, the logistics coordinator for Operation Christmas Child in Kamloops. "For them to know that somebody around the world cares for them and loves them, in the predicament that they're in, they get this gift for the first time and to see their faces, the joy that they get when they open up their gift, it's amazing."
Around 40 volunteers from Kamloops Alliance Church will work to receive and organize shoeboxes this week at the church's Ministry Centre on Leigh Road.
"This year Kamloops Alliance Church is the collection centre for the whole city of Kamloops," Rempel said. "We're very excited because this is the perfect drop off spot, and we're getting boxes coming in. Today is our first day, and we've already had a steady stream of people dropping off boxes very happy to help the children around the world."
Last year Kamloops contributed 2,400 boxes to Operation Christmas Child.
"This year I'm really aiming for 3,000 or more," Rempel said.
The deadline for drop offs is Sunday, which means there is still time to fill a box for a child in need.
"People can decide what gender they want, what age-range they want and they select the gifts according to the age and the gender of the child, and they fill up their boxes with hygiene items, school supplies, toys, a 'wow' item, clothing, anything that's special for the child."
Once all of the shoeboxes have been collected they will be packed into a large shipping container and sent on to Calgary before reaching their final destinations.
The Operation Christmas Child Collection Centre is open Monday through Thursday from noon to 3 p.m., and from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
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