By Eunice Chong

Children far away could benefit from some early holiday shopping this year. Impact, Mowat’s Christian club, is once again tackling a project known as Operation Christmas Child, an initiative of Samaritan’s Purse Canada, which delivers shoeboxes filled with gifts to children living in impoverished countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and West Africa.

Despite the fact that Samaritan’s Purse is a religious organization, there is absolutely no stipulation that a volunteer must also be religious.

“Filling the shoeboxes gives me so much delight because throughout the year I always forget how grateful I am for everything I have. It is amazing thinking about the happiness and joy that a simple gift-filled shoebox will bring to a child in need,” says Lauren, co-captain of the Impact Club. Since 1990, the program has delivered gift-filled shoeboxes to over 135 million children in more than 150 countries.

Participants select gender and age categories and fill cardboard or plastic shoeboxes accordingly, with simple but valuable items such as toys, school supplies, clothes or hygiene items. They then leave the box, along with a minimum donation of $10 (to cover the international shipping costs), at a drop-off centre. Students can drop them off in the Mowat Guidance Office.

Shoeboxes can be packed and sent to Samaritan’s Purse headquarters all year, but most boxes are collected during National Collection Week. Collection takes place from November 13–19 this year.

Haleigh, co-captain of Impact, says the best part about the project is seeing footage of the children opening their gifts: “You can’t help but be proud to be involved; their smiles and happiness are contagious!” Few things exemplify the holiday spirit more than conveying the idea to a child that someone other than their parents loves them and is thinking about them.

Co-captain Naomi is excited to see the boxes piling up in the office around this time of year: “The Impact Club is always so thrilled and proud when we see all the boxes that get returned. It’s great to see our school working together to make an impact on the lives of others, especially those who are less fortunate than we are.”