(These children in Costa Rica are quite absorbed in receiving and opening their Canadian-packed Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. Photo: Frank King, Samaritan’s Purse)
In December 2022, we brought you the story of Stittsville resident, Jennifer Thomsen, who had travelled to Calgary to pack Operation Christmas Child (OCC) shoeboxes for children in Ukraine, the Philippines, Central America, and western Africa. Some of these children had never received a gift before. When Jennifer first learned about OCC nearly 20 years ago through her church, she packed many shoeboxes and eventually volunteered at various sorting facilities in Southern Ontario to assist with the gift-filled shoeboxes before heading to Calgary in 2022 to help out.
We want to share an update on the incredible scope of the Operation Christmas Child program in which Jennifer Thomsen contributes and its impact worldwide that brings smiles to the faces of many families and children.
Despite the challenges posed by inflation, shortages, and the conflict in Ukraine, Canadians lovingly packed 415,072 shoeboxes with toys, hygiene items, school supplies, and many other items during the 2022 Samaritan’s Purse shoebox campaign, Operation Christmas Child. That’s an increase of more than 1,000 shoebox gifts over 2021’s total. In Ontario, 51,788 shoeboxes were packed in 2022, an increase from 2021’s 149,647 total. Of the Ontario total, 332 were packed by Stittsville residents.
Distribution of shoeboxes around the world has already begun. During the next few weeks, children in Ukraine, the Philippines, Central America, and western Africa will be receiving shoeboxes packed by caring Canadians.
The 415,072 boxes donated in 2022 — including the tens of thousands of boxes packed online at PackaBox.ca — were part of a worldwide total of nearly 10.6 million collected in Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Finland, South Korea, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Australia, and New Zealand.
“We are so grateful for the generosity of Canadians,” said Kendra Shields, director of Operation Christmas Child. “These gift-filled shoeboxes are a tangible expression of God’s love and will provide joy and hope to children, many of whom have never received a gift before.”
Stittsville residents can still pack shoeboxes for children in need. Just visit www.PackaBox.ca and do it online! Residents can choose shoebox gift items while also uploading personal notes and photos. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and hand-delivered more than 209 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in over 170 countries hurt by war, poverty, natural disaster, disease, and famine. This year, Samaritan’s Purse collected its milestone 200 millionth shoebox, which was hand-delivered to a young girl in Ukraine.
Many children who receive shoebox gifts will also enroll in Operation Christmas Child’s 12‑lesson discipleship program, The Greatest Journey. This voluntary program teaches children about the Christian faith. Since 2009, more than 26 million children have participated in the program. Every child who graduates is given a New Testament in their language.
Operation Christmas Child is a program of Samaritan’s Purse Canada, a Christian relief and development organization that takes its name from Jesus Christ’s biblical story of the Good Samaritan. Like that Good Samaritan, who found a beaten man and helped restore him, we aid victims of war, disease, disaster, poverty, famine, and persecution. Besides Operation Christmas Child, our initiatives include providing safe water, vocational skills, and agricultural supplies and training to families in the developing world. Learn more at SamaritansPurse.ca.