March 1st, 2024

El Salvador visit highlights impact of Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes

By Brendan Miller on February 6, 2024.

Children in Costa Rica check out their Canadian-packed Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.--SUBMITTED PHOTO

Residents in Medicine Hat and Lethbridge donated nearly 4,000 shoeboxes in 2023 that have since been distributed to children in need.

Medicine Hat residents donated more than 1,600 shoeboxes to Operation Christmas Child, and Samaritan Purse Canada officials say they have seen the positive impact shoeboxes have for children in El Salvador.

Frank King, media relations manager, told the News he visited the home of shoebox recipients while in South America a couple years ago.

King says he arrived at an oversized shack with a tin roof and dirt floors that had hanging sheets from the ceiling for walls.

King recalls meeting a young boy who received a shoebox and witnessed his joy after opening it.

“This really paints a picture of what these shoebox gifts can mean to these children, packed for them by someone they’re probably never going to meet in a country they may have never even heard of before,” says King.

“And yet, here’s this box full of school supplies, hygiene items and toys that are valuable to these children. So talk about giving them a moment of joy, a moment of hope, in an otherwise very guilt existence,” adds King.

King says Albertans are able to pack and donate shoeboxes all year round, not just during the Christmas season.

“It can be the middle of an August heatwave but if something puts it on your heart to get out there and help some kids in need go to, and in the middle of that heat wave pack shoe boxes,” says King.

Alberta residents packed more than 88,000 shoeboxes in 2023.

Visit to make a shoebox online.

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