After helping out with last year’s Operation Christmas Child shoe box campaign, Jacqueline Brunatti is overseeing collection of the boxes containing a range of items — from personal hygiene to toys and school supplies — which will be distributed to children in developing countries. Donations may be dropped off at South Langley Church, La-z-Boy Furniture Galleries (20670 Langley Bypass), and Pho Tran Vietnamese Restaurant (230-26310 Fraser Hwy.) until Friday.

Delivering boxes of joy around the world

Operation Christmas Child organizers will collect filled shoe boxes throughout the week in Langley

There’s still time to pack a little shoebox full of items that will make a big impact on a child in a developing country.

South Langley Church (20098 22 Ave.), La-z-Boy Furniture Galleries (20670 Langley Bypass), and Pho Tran Vietnamese Restaurant (230-26310 Fraser Hwy) are collection centres for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.

Each shoebox is filled with hygiene items, school supplies, and toys, and is given to children, regardless of gender, race or religion.

Volunteer Suzanne Fast was able to see, first hand, the joy these shoeboxes can bring, when she taught in Thailand in 2004.

“There were about 400 kids in a school gym in Bangkok,” Fast said. “I volunteered at an orphanage, and the orphans from the home orphanage did a service project for other kids in the community, which was amazing. Together, we delivered them [shoeboxes] to a local school… and everybody opened the boxes at the same time.”

What happened next was a happy memory for Fast.

“They were screaming and freaking out with excitement,” Fast said.

“It’s incredible, seeing the faces of the kids.”

Local shoeboxes are being shipped to Calgary.

Then, after a thorough inspection, the shoeboxes will be delivered into the hands of children in countries such as Haiti, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Chile, Uruguay, Ukraine, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, and Sierra Leone.

People can drop off shoeboxes  daily until Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m, each day at South Langley Church.

La-z-Boy Furniture Galleries is collecting shoeboxes Wednesday until 6 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Collection times at Pho Tran Vietnamese Restaurant are Friday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

There are three steps to donating:

1.) Select a shoebox – use a regular-sized shoebox or shoebox-sized plastic box. If wrapping your shoebox, wrap the lid separately.

2.) Boy or girl? – Determine whether your gift will be for a boy or a girl, and the child’s age category: 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14.

3.) Fill your shoebox – opt for a well-balanced variety of items from the following categories:

• school supplies such as pens, pencils, pencil crayons, note pads, and picture books,

• hygiene items such as a facecloth, toothbrush, comb, and soap. Place soap in a sealable bag,

• toys and other gifts such as stuffed animals, small musical instruments, hair clips, toy jewelry, T-shirts, and socks,

• personal note and/or a photo in your shoebox (not inside the donation envelope).

Fast said taking the time to pack a shoebox or container is well worth the investment.

“It’s a huge difference,” Fast said.

“These are kids in countries that don’t have anything, or next to nothing, who can have a gift. It shows that someone on the other side of the world loves them enough to invest in them, and give them something, and they don’t even know them.”

Jacqueline Brunatti took on the role of project organizer at South Langley Church.

“I helped out with it last year,” she said. “Because our church is a collection centre, they needed people to help pack, so I got involved. This year, I’m overseeing the actual packing and shipping.”

For more about Operation Christmas Child, click here; email info@southlangleychurch.com, or call 604-530-2646.