In September, thousands of empty shoeboxes went out all over Bruce County as the annual Operation Christmas Child Shoebox campaign began. Two short months later, thousands have been filled.
Each year, the shoeboxes are filled with surprises for children in need in countries where a shoebox can bring a message of hope and love to a child who has never received a gift.
The boxes, picked up and filled by individuals, organizations, businesses and church groups are now on the road to collection centres in preparation for shipping. On Tuesday, November 24th, more than 700 left Shoreline Baptist Church in Port Elgin (Saugeen Shores) that were part of the more than 5,000 shoeboxes collected in the area from Hepworth to Kincardine, Ripley to Tiverton, Saugeen First Nation to Port Elgin and all communities in between.
“This year, many sensed world conditions,” said Joyce Scammell, local Coordinator, “and that heightened enthusiasm that resulted in reaching out to children and hurting families with more packed boxes, donated shoebox items and donations for shipping costs than ever before.”
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This year, three vehicles were needed to transport the many shoeboxes to the Hanover collection depot. Shoreline’s Steve Pellow, First Nation’s Fire Fighter Sandy Roote and Melissa Root loaded the many boxes into their personal vehicles and transported them to the Hanover Missionary Church for further transport by train to the final processing centre in Calgary. From there, the gift boxes will begin their long journey to the children of Sengal, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Nicaragua and Sierra Leone.
Operation Christmas Child is a program run by Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian relief organization headed up by Franklin Graham, son of Bill Graham. Since 1993, 100 million shoeboxes have brought messages of hope to children living in desperate circumstances where famine, poverty, natural disaster, war or disease is an everyday occurrence.
“The support we have had from Saugeen First Nation is nothing short of amazing,” says Scammell. “Donna Nashkewa-Jackson and her enthusiastic, inspiring team have been incredible.”
Social Services-Ontario Works: Nicole D’Atri and Theresa Root
Band Office: Leona Root
Housing Department: Darlene and Waylon Roote
Mino Mimaadsawin Health Centre: Christy Johnston, Peffy Drysdon
Kabashewin health Centre: Christy Johnston and Peggy Drysdon
NNADAP: Rennie Nawash
Biinoojinh Day Care: Melanie Cameron, Summer Cameron-Nashkewan, Glenn Cameron and Joyce Besito
Saugeen First Nation Library/resource Centre: Melissa Courage and Eden Root, Maryika and Brock Root
Roote’s Gas Bar: Brenda, Serena, Brandi, Hannah Roote
Saugeen First Nation Community Members: Teri Indoe, Rhonda Harrison, Sytra, Sophia, Stella Hestra, Holly Nashkewa & Cole Roote, Sandy Roote & Brock, Marika Pucan, Brendan Roote, Josh Wesley, Marsha Roote-Sky & Ryder Sky, Pam Kewageshig, Sara Jackson, Donna Nashkewa-Jackson, Susan Shawbedees, Gwen & Alysia Mason, Joanne Mason, Gloria Ritchie.
Scammell said that several businesses and organizations also opened their doors to become pick-up and drop-off locations for the shoeboxes: Salvation Army Thrift Store, Turtle Crossing, missionary Church, BarDown Kincardine, Shoreline Baptist Church, 98theBeach radio station and many others.