The collection season is underway for Canada's Operation Christmas Child (OCC).

Individuals, families, churches, businesses, sports teams, and community groups are now packing shoeboxes with various gifts to be delivered to children in need around the world.

"Think about toys, school supplies and hygiene items as well," says Adria Dyck, the Winkler drop-off lead. "It doesn't have to be complicated. Think about what you would have liked as a kid or what your kids might like. Then add a wow item - a doll, a stuffed animal, something that's going to really capture those children's attention right when they open the box. Maybe a soccer ball. If you include that, include a pump so they can pump it up. [Or] an item of clothing. A nice thing to add is a personal note written by you or a photo. Often those are the most treasured items that the children get in the boxes. To have a face and know who packed this box for them is really cool."

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. In a world weighed down with inflation and the effects of war, children need joy more than ever.

"This is the essence of Operation Christmas Child," said Kendra Shields, director of OCC in a news release announcing this year's National Collection Week. "Every shoebox gift is an opportunity for a child to learn that he or she matters to Canadians and, most importantly, matters to God. That’s why I want everyone to help as many children in need as possible by packing shoeboxes."

Last year Winkler and the surrounding communities packed over 5600 shoe boxes. Dyck says to surpass 6,000 this year would be amazing!

Children in Costa Rica open their shoeboxes from Operation Christmas Child

Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and distributed more than 200 million shoebox gifts in more than 100 countries.

Each gift-filled shoebox packed, donated, and delivered to one of hundreds of drop-off locations throughout Canada by Nov. 19 will make a long journey into the arms of a child in need.

Empty boxes can be picked up at variety of locations around the region.

"[In] Winkler, [drop off locations include] Dollarama, Timeout Sports and Tempo," said Dyck. "[In] Morden, you can find them at the Dollar Store and Giant Tiger and the Dollar Store in Altona as well. [In] Carman, there's a number of places: The Price Is Right, Toews Printing, Carman Pentecostal, Janzen Chevrolet, the Roseisle Co-op, Morris Big Way Foods. Many churches in the area have empty boxes as well. The central drop off this year is the Gospel Mission Church in Winkler, at the corner of 15th St. and Highway #14. Drop off week is starting on Monday, November 13th through Sunday the 19th."

Further details on the central drop-off locations in Winkler and Carman are below:

Gospel Mission Church

855 15th St Winkler

November 13 - 19, 2023 Mon. 8:30am - 4:30pm Tues. 8:30am - 8:00pm Wed. CLOSED Thur. 8:30am - 4:30pm Fri. 8:30am - 4:30pm Sat. 9:00am - 1:00pm Sun. 1:00pm - 4:00pm

Carman Pentecostal Assembly

PO Box 837 Carman

November 13 - 19, 2023 Mon. 9:00am - 12:00pm Tues. 9:00am - 12:00pm Wed. 9:00am - 12:00pm Thur. 9:00am - 7:00pm Fri. 9:00am - 9:00pm Sat. 9:00am - 4:00pm Sun. 9:00am - 1:00pm

The shoebox drive is an annual initiative of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief organization that works in more than 100 countries.

Dyck says boxes should not contains any liquids, used items, candy or food.

A detailed list of suggestions and restrictions can be found on the Samaritan's Purse website.

Canadians can also pack boxes online at

Adria Dyck in the Country88 studioAdria Dyck in the Country88 studio

With files from Nicole Klassen

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