The spirit of Christmas will be stacked into shoeboxes over the coming weeks as South Canterbury groups and individuals take part in Operation Christmas Child.
In an initiative overseen by the international relief agency Samaritan’s Purse, people fill a shoebox with small, inexpensive gifts for a child who otherwise might not receive much.
Shoeboxes from Australia and New Zealand will be distributed to children in the South Pacific and South East Asia.
South Canterbury and North Otago voluntary co-ordinator Roseanne Sheridan said often involved in the project but she hoped this year to spread the message wider.
While local figures from last year were not available, Mrs Sheridan said that worldwide, 11.5 million shoeboxes were given. Last year, 65,000 came from New Zealand.
The concept was a simple one, and a great one for children to become involved with.
“People are invited to take a shoebox – either one of their own, or a supplied one – and fill it with inexpensive new gifts, like perhaps a soft toy, things for school, personal items like combs, toothbrushes, a simple toy, or maybe a wee article of clothing, like sunglasses or a sunhat,” she said.
Pamphlets were provided to explain what items could and could not be included.
“It helps children to learn they can make a difference even though they are little, and so other children know they care. It makes our children think more about what they can give, rather than what they are going to get.”
People can fill their own average-sized shoebox, or collect an official shoebox from H & J Bruce Transport, behind Harvey Norman in Evans St. The company provides free transport for the boxes throughout the South Island’s east coast, delivering them to the Christchurch processing depot.