LETHBRIDGE – Sometimes it just takes a shoebox to make a child’s dream come true at Christmas time.
That’s what Operation Christmas Child has been trying to do since it began in 1990 when Dave and Jill Cooke of Wales were watching a television report about Romanian orphans.
Dave and Jill couldn’t stop the poverty, but they could offer something – the gift of love. Together, they filled a convoy of nine trucks with medical supplies, food, clothing, and Christmas gifts for children, then drove to Romania.
It marked the start of what has become the world’s largest children’s Christmas program.
The program has continued over the years, thanks to people like Today’s Country 95-5’s Promotions Director Megan Pierson.
Ever since she was little, Pierson and her mother would do shoebox packing parties and she’s continued to put them together over the years.
“Around October and November, we would have everything laid out on the table, we would all have our boxes, and we would go around putting things in the boxes that we wanted the kids to have,” she continued. “Growing up we continued to do it, and now that I’m on my own I still enjoy packing the boxes.”
Pierson’s goal this year is to have 300 shoeboxes dropped off at the radio station, located inside the RBC Building on 7 St. S before National Collection Week which runs between Nov. 12 to 18.
As far as buying materials are concerned, Pierson says a lot of people will look and ask her if she just went bought stuff to fill up the boxes.
“What I do is throughout the year I’ll see different sales that go on, or I’ll go to the dollar store. For instance, a lot of the pencils or paper items that I have, I get them after all the back to school shopping is done for cheap. I’m smart about how I do get my items so it’s not overly expensive.”
When you drop off your shoebox at the station, you can submit your idea of something silly/ridiculous/crazy that you want Pierson to do as well.
Pierson says they have up until Nov. 16 to collect the shoeboxes.
“What we would like to see is people either come to the station and pick up a shoebox, or you could use your own shoeboxes, fill them up and then bring them back to the station. We would like to see at least 300 boxes come here to the radio station if more was possible that would be amazing as well, but then we can bring them to Calgary,” Pierson said.
There have been some changes to what is, and what isn’t allowed in the shoeboxes.
One thing that people used to put in is candy, but now they won’t allow any kind of candy in there. You also can’t put in any liquids, which includes toothpaste, liquid soap or shampoo.
Additionally, you can’t put in a deck of cards, or any war or military-related toys.
As for why Pierson has remained involved over the years, she says growing up everyone knew what Operation Christmas Child was.
“Going to different cities sometimes it’s not as popular, but I’m trying to make sure everybody here in Lethbridge knows the organization and knows the importance of making a shoebox.”
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