It’s that time of year again.
Operation Christmas Child has returned to Revelstoke, but with no more Greyhound package services, the project is presented with new difficulties.
The project is organized by the Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian humanitarian aid. Donors provide a shoe box of donated items, such as toys and/or school supplies and Samaritan’s Purse sends the box to children in developing countries.
In the past, Greyhound has provided free shipping for the donated show boxes from any collection centre in the country, to main processing centres in Calgary and a centre in Ontario. From there, they are inspected and shipped internationally.
This year, Noeline Mostert, the main organizer of the program in Revelstoke, will drive the boxes herself to Kelowna.
“What Greyhound did was amazing,” says Mostert.
Greyhound said it was ending passenger service at the end of this month because ridership has fallen by nearly 41 per cent across Canada since 2010. The package service is down 35 per cent during the same period.
Mostert says Operation Christmas Child is important for children all over the world.
”It goes to countries with poverty and people in need. It doesn’t matter if you’re Christian or not. It’s a no-judgmental give away,” says Mostert.
The Baptist Church is the drop-off point for boxes in Revelstoke. Empty boxes can also be picked up at the church to be filled. Anything can packed, except foods, liquids, nothing violent or war-related, or glass.
“It can’t be anything that can hurt them,” says Mostert. She suggests school supplies, personal hygiene items, and/or toys.
Mostert has been involved with Operation Christmas Child for roughly 16 years.
“It’s just a nice project. Giving is such a joy, more fun than receiving. When you start packing a box, you can’t stop,” says Mostert.
According to a Samaritan’s Purse pamphlet, this year the shoe boxes from Canada will head to western Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
“Sometimes the boxes have to go on donkeys to reach certain areas,” says Mostert.
Since 1990, more than 157 million children in over 130 countries have received a box. According to the Samaritan’s Purse each shoe box is given regardless of a child’s gender, race, or religion. Mostert says roughly 150 boxes were collected from Revelstoke last year.
However, without Greyhound, Mostert says the project will depend more and more on volunteers to move the boxes to where they can be shipped internationally.
“I hope Canada Post offers the same free services that Greyhound offers.”
This year, Mostert says if people would like to donate but are unable to fill an entire box, they can bring single items to the Baptist that will then be bundled together to fill one box. Donations and boxes can be dropped at the Baptist Church until Nov. 18.
“Revelstoke is a community that wants to do good. They just want to help,” says Mostert.