An annual program delivering cheer to children in developing countries is back.
For the 26th year, Operation Christmas Child is underway in Timmins.
“Because of COVID, I’m encouraging families to do this as a family project. We’re not doing it through schools, we’re not doing it through scouts or guides or anything like that right now, so do it as a family project — help the kids realize how much, in spite of COVID, we really have,” said Peggy Bendell, who organizes the program locally.
To participate, decide who you want to pack a box. The options are a boy or girl who is either two to four years old, five to nine years, or 10 to 14. Then, fill the shoebox with gifts such as toys, hygiene items or school supplies. You can also include a personal note or photo.
She said face masks such as the thin blue ones in a plastic package can be added too.
There is also an option to pack a box online.
This year’s boxes are heading to El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.
“(They are) warmer countries, but you’ve gotta realize some of those have mountains and they live in the mountains and it gets kind of chilly at night, so toques are great,” said Bendell.
She said not to include anything that has to do with war or will harm or scare a child, food, or toothpaste.
All items should be new, as well.
“They wanted to be treated with dignity too,” she said.
Operation Christmas Child boxes are available at a number of local stores. Bendell said you can also use your own shoebox, or buy a reusable one from the dollar store.
Typically, the Timmins area donates between 1,000 to 2,000 boxes every year, although Bendell noted the numbers were down last year.
In Timmins, the boxes and brochures are available at the Timmins Square customer service desk, Staples, Jorie’s downtown Timmins, the Schumacher post office, Tisdale Plumbing and Heating in South Porcupine, and from Bendell’s house at 602 Division St., Porcupine. These are also the locations filled shoeboxes can be dropped off at.
A donation of $10 can also be included to help cover the shipping cost. People can also just donate financially by picking up a brochure, which as pre-paid addressed envelopes.
For more information on the program, call Bendell at 705-235-5121.
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