Still time to contribute to Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child is now well underway, and there’s still time to fill a shoebox for a less-fortunate child somewhere in the world.

Sylvan Lake Alliance Church associate pastor Jim Rilling and children’s ministry co-ordinator Ashley Thomas pose with Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes filled with toys

Operation Christmas Child is now well underway, and there’s still time to fill a shoebox for a less-fortunate child somewhere in the world.

The Sylvan Lake Alliance Church has been participating in the program for about 20 years now, and acts as one of the community’s drop-off locations.

Each year, the church takes in roughly between 400 and 500 boxes, according to lead pastor Kevin Haugan.

“You can fill a box with wonderful stuff for the cost of two cups of coffee,” he said. “A little bit of effort and money on our part means so much to somebody else in this big world.”

Haugan said he’s known families who fill one box for each child in their family. It’s something simple and meaningful for people around the world to enjoy, and he feels glad to be a part of it.

Even though he’s never personally handed out shoeboxes, he’s heard many stories from those who have.

Friends have told him of children lining up to receive a box, and the positive behaviour they showed in doing so.

“For me, as a believer, I pray over the stuff I put inside the box that it will go to the child that needs it the most,” Haugan said. “I’ve heard of things like people putting in a pair of slippers and the slippers actually fit that child.”

Former children’s ministry co-ordinator Stacia Dyck has helped kids fill shoeboxes for their own age group. She said the kids are encouraged to pack things they would want for themselves.

“It’s a fun way of getting the kids in the church involved in it, and a good way to give to somebody else at Christmas time,” she said. “The heart behind the whole project is really cool because the kids in Canada just get so much for Christmas. It’s fun to let the kids pack a box themselves and learn about giving to another kid.”

Empty boxes can be picked up from the church and returned full by Nov. 16. Other participating churches and groups around the community may have different drop-off deadlines.