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Everton resident travels to Costa Rica  with Operation Christmas Child project

Operation Christmas Child - The team Beryl McDougall went to Costa Rica with as an ambassador for Operation Christmas Child with Samaritan’s Purse met Joshua at their hotel. He is in the front row, third from the left.  submitted photo

Everton resident travels to Costa Rica with Operation Christmas Child project

by Jaime Myslik

EVERTON - When Joshua heard a team from Canada that was giving out shoebox gifts was staying at the hotel where he was working in Costa Rica, he said he wanted to meet them.

Joshua was a recipient of a shoebox when he was just seven years old, and is now in his early to mid-20s.   

“He wanted to come even though we weren’t at all involved when he was a little boy; he wanted to come and thank the people from Canada, and he showed us, he pulled out a tape measure that he had been given in that shoebox, and he had been carrying it with him from the time he was seven,” said Beryl McDougall of Everton.

A shoebox ambassador for Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child in Costa Rica last summer, McDougall has been making Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes to give to Samaritan’s Purse for over 15 years - ever since her first grandchild was born and the process became a family affair.

Originally she put together shoeboxes for her grandchildren, but once they got old enough to help, she took them shopping with her.

“It was a way of teaching them about caring for other people,” she said. “And that not everybody had all the stuff that they have.”

Last year McDougall decided to shake things up and instead of just making the shoeboxes and letting that be the end of it, she volunteered to go to Costa Rica as part of a distribution team.

She said the trip showed her  that Operation Christmas Child is bigger than just giving out a shoebox.

“The shoebox is a little bit of an open door,” she said. “It allows the organizations in that country to understand the needs of the people in their community that they may not otherwise know.”

It allows them to identify who is most in need.

At one of the distribution parties, McDougall said there was a little girl who gobbled down her hotdog before the shoeboxes were given out.

“When I gave her the gift and she opened it up there was a bag of candy on top and of course, like any child, she wanted me to open it up really fast and I wasn’t opening it fast enough for her, but we found out later that was the first food she had to eat that day,” McDougall said.

“And that was the middle of the afternoon.”

This showed the local church that the family was in need and there was a food drive for the girl’s family and the church helped to give them what they needed, McDougall explained.

“So it’s allowed me to see that it’s more than just a gift box,” she said.

The project tries to ensure that every year new children receive the shoeboxes with no repeats, so the aid can have the widest reach possible, McDougall said.

This year’s shoeboxes from the Kitchener processing centre are going to Nicaragua, Senegal, Chile and Haiti.

In addition, about 20,000 shoeboxes from across Canada will be going to the Ukraine, said Chris Macdonald, western Ontario manager for Operation Christmas Child.

The overall goal is to receive more than 700,000 shoeboxes this year for the 13 countries for which Canada is responsible.

Though the project is called Operation Christmas Child, the recipients in these countries don’t necessarily get their gifts on Christmas Day.

The title is for Canadians, McDougall said, because Canadians are always in the gift giving spirit around the holidays.

The pick-up for the Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes has come and gone this year, but the distribution centres are still accepting shoebox donations until Dec. 13 if they’re dropped off.

The closest processing centre is in Kitchener at 2 Chandaria Place. It’s open from 8:30am to 9pm Monday to Friday and 8:30am to 3:30pm on Saturday.

Another option is for individuals to buy a shoebox online at Samaritan’s Purse. The organization will then purchase the contents and assemble a tangible box.

December 12, 2014


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