Earlier this week thousands of Operation Christmas Child (OCC) shoeboxes were loaded and shipped out from Gospel Mission Church in Winkler. This was Adria Dyck’s first year as Winkler’s drop-off lead, and noted 5,666 boxes were collected, up about a dozen from last year.

"It's so amazing to see the continued generosity of our region, year after year, partnering with this ministry," she shared. "I know there's a lot of different options for people to give to in the area, but to see the continued support for Operation Christmas Child, it's just really wonderful to see."

This year, shoeboxes from Canada are destined for a number of regions including  several countries in west Africa, central America, Ukraine and Philippines. 

"What it really means for these kids is an opportunity for them to hear the Gospel of Jesus, and to feel the love of Christ," she said. "The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to share God's love in a tangible way with kids in need around the world. Definitely that physical, exciting gift for these kids, who may not have ever received a gift before, but it's really deeper than that. The ministry of Operation Christmas Child is to bring that eternal hope for communities, and for kids, all around the world." 

This was Dyck’s first year as Winkler’s drop-off lead, and she felt it went really well.

"It was a bit of a learning curve, at first, to figure out how this whole operation works, but it was really exciting," she said with a smile. "It was really neat to see all the different people bringing in boxes, and hear their stories of why they do it. A lot of them have been doing it for many years, maybe it's a family tradition, so just to talk to the donors was really exciting. And then, to be part of this huge operation of bringing this hope to the world was really exciting."

Dyck stressed, even though the physical shoeboxes have been shipped for this collection season, there is still an opportunity to support Operation Christmas Child by packing a box online at PackABox.ca. A neat feature about packing online, is you can track your box as it travels around the world to its final destination.

"As we go forward to next year, I know costs are high, and things are expensive, but to just continue to remember Operation Christmas Child," offered Dyck when asked about what's to come in 2024. "Remember the importance of this ministry, as as we go forward, and next year it would be wonderful to try and up our total again."

Operation Christmas Child is an annual initiative of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief organization that works in more than 100 countries. Last year, Canadians filled more than 415,000 shoeboxes with gifts with struggling children in West Africa, Central America, Ukraine and Philippines. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and distributed more than 200 million shoebox gifts in more than 100 countries.

room filled with OCC shoeboxesAt Gospel Mission Church, a room filled with OCC shoeboxes before being shipped out

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