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Over 1,000 shoeboxes donated for Operation Christmas Child

2022 marks the first time the Barrhead OCC campaign has crossed the 1,000 shoebox threshold

BARRHEAD – The local Operation Christmas Child (OCC) campaign has finally achieved a milestone that was narrowly missed last year, as Barrhead and area residents have donated a total of 1,010 shoeboxes filled with school supplies, clothing, toys and other items for needy children around the world. 

In 2021, Barrhead and area residents donated 997 shoeboxes, just short of the 1,000-shoebox threshold that would mark a new record for the Barrhead and area OCC campaign, as well as a fourth consecutive high. 

“We’ve had an amazing response from the community,” said Herb Mantey, who coordinates the campaign along with his wife Derra. “A thousand (shoeboxes) is really proportionally high compared to other communities.” 

Operation Christmas Child is an annual campaign run by Samaritan’s Purse Canada, a non-denominational evangelical Christian organization, wherein people fill shoeboxes with items that will assist children in impoverished and war-torn areas and those boxes are shipped overseas. 

Depending on the year and what is going on in the world, Canadian-filled boxes can go to various countries almost anywhere in the world.  

In 2022, however, shoeboxes were headed for El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Senegal, Guinea, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ukraine and the Philippines. 

Although the Barrhead OCC campaign was originally started by former Barrhead Leader publisher Al Blackmere in 1995, it has been organized by Herb and Derra for many years now. 

Locally, shoeboxes were collected at the Barrhead Alliance Church and then were packed up into cartons by volunteers on Nov. 19-20. 

Herb noted that despite the location, the campaign is not affiliated with the church beyond them providing a space to store and pack up the boxes, for which they are grateful. 

In addition to some volunteers that help out each year, Derra noted they had a couple of firefighters assist with the packing on Saturday night and they texted a bunch of friends in order to bring on more volunteers. 

“We’ve had multiple workers going right from shoppers to shoebox-packers to carton-packers,” Herb added. 

Herb said the Neerlandia Co-op drove into Barrhead on Nov. 21 to pick up the cartons, which they will shrink-wrap on to pallets and then ship down to Edmonton. Eventually, the pallets will make their way to a processing centre. 

And with that, the Barrhead OCC campaign has drawn to a close. “I will actually have a good sleep tonight after all this lifting,” Herb joked. 

Incidentally, this year will see OCC ambassador Elizabeth Groff — who was once the recipient of a shoebox as an orphan growing up in Ukraine — pack the 200 millionth shoebox donated through Operation Christmas Child. For more info, visit www.samaritanspurse.ca/article/celebrating-200-million-blessings.

-with files from Barry Kerton



Kevin Berger

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