Youth pack shoeboxes to help kids through Operation Christmas Child

HANOVER – Lita Ernest, a young member of 1st Hanover Guides, worked hard this season to organize the packing of Operation Christmas Child (OCC) shoe box gifts with her troop.

She also took shoeboxes into her Grade 8 classroom at John Diefenbaker Senior School, to inspire students to reach out to children who are so less fortunate than Canadians.

Ernest learned about the project while attending St. Patrick’s School in Guelph. The message has travelled full circle back to Hanover, as Alissa Magwood (a former Hanover resident) spearheaded the OCC project in Lita’s school, in preparation for a distribution trip to Costa Rica.

Ernest brought her shoeboxes to the Hanover Drop Off Centre, where 3,935 shoeboxes were received from Shelburne, Goderich, Wingham, Mount Forest, Palmertson, Harriston, Clifford, Neustadt, Mildmay, Walkerton, Hanover, Durham, Tara, Tiverton, Wiarton, Paisley and all surrounding counties.

One notable small church – Shiloh Community Church near Tiverton – alone packed 840 shoebox gifts.

Many people donated hand crafted items to include in the 253 shoeboxes packed by the local team. Others, including local businesses and organizations, gave financial donations to help with shipping.

‘Miracle in tough times’

“It was a miracle in tough financial times. With the help of an amazing team of volunteers and so many donors, many children will be touched with love and joy from Canada,” organizers state.

The Hanover Central Drop off also received shoeboxes from Drop Off Centres in Owen Sound (1,195) and Port Elgin (1,000). This year’s total surpassed all previous years’ totals as the final tally was 6,130 (5,601 in 2022).

Trucks transported Hanover and Area Missionary Church Central Drop Off shoeboxes to Mississauga, where they were loaded on a train to be transported to Calgary. From there, the shoeboxes were to be inspected and reorganized for shipments to Canada’s receiving countries.

Next year, the local Operation Christmas Child team looks forward to connecting with young people like Ernest, and other dedicated residents of Grey, Bruce, Wellington, Dufferin, Perth and Huron Counties.