Christmas box program sees jump in donations (November 27, 2014)

Written by Adam Kveton

Published by Kanata Kourier-Standard on Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Kanata Baptist Church Christmas box program see thirteen per cent more boxes filled with gifts than last year

A hard working sort of Christmas cheer was permeating a room in the Kanata Baptist Church as volunteers collected and stacked hundreds of boxes filled with gifts for less fortunate families across the globe on Nov. 21.

As in previous years, the church served as the hub for Christmas shoebox collecting for many west end Ottawa communities.

The annual endeavour, part of the Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child program, saw donations streaming in from across Kanata and across Ottawa, said organizer Cheryl Nugent.

Schools from Kanata and Stittsville, businesses, Girl Guide groups, and many individuals contributed to this year’s 4,732 boxes for the Kanata collection centre, and 7,692 total including donations from Carleton Place and Arnprior.

That is a 13 per cent increase from last year’s total, said Nugent.

“We are thrilled with the generosity of the community,” she said.

The shoebox collection program has individuals fill small boxes full of toys, hygiene items and school supplies specifically for girls or boys in a particular age range. The boxes are collected from about 10 countries, and sent to more than 100 countries with children in need, said Nugent.

Having volunteered for the project for the past three years, Nugent said she remains passionate about what a small box of presents can do.

“Let’s face it, a shoebox of presents is not going to change a kid’s life,” she said.

But, for a child that has lost everything they have in a natural disaster or had to flee their home, “just getting a gift from somebody when they have nothing, it gives them hope and love.”

Another reason for her enthusiasm is the project’s capacity to bring various people together, she said.

“It’s not just a church thing,” said Nugent.

Though Samaritan’s Purse is a Christian organization, anyone can donate, and many do.

One mother and daughter pair from Wakefield collects hundreds of shoeboxes throughout the year, said Nugent, having so far collected about 500 boxes.

This year, in addition to the many warm-weather countries that traditionally receive shoeboxes, presents will also be going to Ukraine, said Nugent. Samaritan’s Purse announced the new destination earlier this year so that donors could pack cold-weather appropriate boxes specifically for the Ukraine.

After days of collecting boxes at the Kanata Baptist Church, the more than 7,000 boxes were sent to a sorting facility in the Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont. area, to be checked for safety and packaged securely for their trips around the world.

Click here to learn more about Samaritan's Purse.

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