Gifts in a box set to wow children at Christmas

Ashburton co-ordinator Pat Andrew, of Operation Christmas Child, with some of the shoebox sized boxes used during the annual charity project.

Operation Christmas Child is about to get under way and Ashburton co-ordinator Pat Andrew is calling for supporters of the annual global project.

The project, run by international organisation Samaritan’s Purse, gives children in the poorest of countries a shoebox-sized box of gifts for the festive season.

The boxes are filled by supporters around the globe with new items for children in one of three age groups; ages two – four, five – nine and 10 – 14.

They generally include an item to “wow” such as a soccer ball with pump or stuffed animal, and are then filled with other fun toys, hygiene items and school supplies.

There is also a personal note and photo, which is sometimes a child’s favourite thing to receive.

“Samaritan’s Purse is a worldwide relief organisation, which is similar to World Vision. It works in any country where there is a humanitarian need,” she said.

Among their work they also build hospitals, schools and wells where needed.

New Zealand and Australian supporters packed 214,310 boxes last year; 51 were from Ashburton, Mrs Andrew said.

Those boxes were sent to Cambodia, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Malawi and Madagascar.

Mrs Andrew, based at the Ashburton Baptist Church, has been organising the project in Ashburton for the past couple of years, however it had been part of Ashburton Baptist for many years, lead in the past by Steve and Rose Hawkes, she said.

“This is a fun thing to do and can be done in a way that works for you,” she said.

The project can be done by anyone in the community, from church groups, sports clubs, scouting or guiding groups, school classrooms or business groups.

There were a variety of things which could go in a box, but they had to be new, she said.

Handmade items needed to be made from new materials.

A list of ideas in different sections was provided to help.

The boxes, which will be given out from October 1, need to be returned to the church by October 22.

They would then be collected in Ashburton and transported to Auckland, and dispatched to children around the world.

Anyone interested in supporting a box can contact Mrs Andrew through the Ashburton Baptist Church.