In what has become an annual tradition, Glad Tidings Pentecostal Church is collecting for Operation Christmas Child, a program that sees toys, school supplies and more delivered to children in developing countries.
Run by Samaritan’s Purse, a non-denominational evangelical Christian organization that has provided spiritual and physical aid around the world since 1970, the program involves filling shoebox-sized containers with items purchased locally for a boy or girl in the 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14 age ranges, along with a $7 donation to cover shipping and other project costs.
More than 400 boxes were shipped from Creston last year — a total of 672,274 were collected in Canada in 2011 — and the numbers look to be similar this year, said Glad Tidings Pastor Gary Forsyth, thanks to the efforts of Kelly Miller and Ann Cote.
“He’s been setting people up and getting them organized,” said Forsyth. “She’s been heading up getting them into schools.”
The Operation Christmas Child boxes can be picked up at Glad Tidings or Your Dollar Store With More, then filled and dropped off at the church on or before Nov. 23 to allow for packing and shipping to the Calgary processing centre.
The program is nothing new to Creston, where it’s been going for over a decade, and certainly nothing new to Forsyth, who came to Creston two years ago. His previous church in Airdrie, Alta, held a big drive every year, collecting over 300 boxes from church members alone. The church would then send a team to the Samaritan’s Purse warehouse, where each box is opened, examined and repacked for shipping.
This year, Operation Christmas Child boxes will be sent to Costa Rica, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Uruguay and Venezuela.
About eight years ago, Forsyth was in Cambodia, and was able to see firsthand the effect the boxes have on children.
“We were able to get all the kids from the neighbourhood together and hand them out,” he said. “To say they have nothing is an exaggeration. They’re never given anything, ever.”
But better than just giving things to the children, Operation Christmas Child allows Samaritan’s Purse workers to do even more for the locals.
“These open up doorways for the guy in Cambodia to do social work in the community,” said Forsyth.
For more information, contact Gary Forsyth at 250-428-7418.