It was another successful year of putting together Operation Christmas Child (O.C.C.) Shoeboxes in southeastern Manitoba.

Debbie DeKlein from the Blumenort Community Church says more than 6,000 shoeboxes were sent out to the Calgary Samaritan’s Purse Distribution Centre on Sunday.

"(We) packed 775 boxes in one week, and that was fantastic. We had lots of people come out. Thanks to the community of Blumenort and surrounding areas, we packed lots of boxes," DeKlein, the coordinator for O.C.C. Shoeboxes in the southeast, says.

Earlier in November, they opened their Operation Christmas Shoebox store in the basement of the church and were pleasantly surprised by how many people came out that week. DeKlein says this event could not be pulled off without the many volunteers.

“I have a whole group of people who are just willing to jump in and just work hard and get it all done. I just want to say thank you to all the volunteers who helped out, not only at the Blumenort Church but also in all the individual churches, organizations and businesses around town, as well as everyone who dropped off a shoebox," she says. "Every single box is going to make a difference (for) somebody.”

shoeboxesBoxes pile high at Blumenort Community Church.

This number is higher than last year, which was a different kind of year all around. The highest amount of OCC Shoeboxes put together by their church in one week was just over 800.

"This year was not quite a record, but it's still wonderful because every box counts.”

DeKlein says they will get a final total of O.C.C. shoeboxes collected by the end of February 2022, when the total will include online orders as well.

Last week was a busy one for them as churches, organizations, businesses and individuals from across the southeast dropped off their shoeboxes at the Blumenort Community Church, which was the collection location for residents living in the southeast. The O.C.C. shoeboxes were then packed up and Straight-A transfer from Grunthal picked them up and brought them to Winnipeg, where they will be shipped to Calgary.

Blumenort Community ChurchVolunteers secure boxes of shoeboxes on top of a crate.

Blumenort and area, including Steinbach, Landmark, La Broquerie, Mitchell and Blumenort, collected 4,158, and the Grunthal area brought in 1,849 shoeboxes, totalling 6,007.

“That’s definitely lots of boxes to go."

These numbers are up significantly compared to last year. Blumenort’s total number of boxes is 450 higher and Grunthals’ total is about 300 more boxes last year.

After a stop in Calgary, these O.C.C. Shoeboxes will be heading out to South American countries like Costa Rica, as well to children along the western coast of Africa, like Guinea.

DeKlein says if you've already put your shoebox together but you missed the deadline to drop it off, you can save your O.C.C. Shoebox for next year or take care of mailing it yourself to the Samaritan’s Purse Distribution Centre in Calgary. If you meant to do it this year, you still can as the Samaritan's Purse online store is always open. 


Written by Adi Loewen