A group of women from Rosenort has returned from volunteering at the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Distribution Centre in Calgary.
For Erika Friesen and Christal Dueck, this was a first time experience. Their job, along with countless other volunteers, was to go through the composed giftboxes and add items if needed or remove things that are not allowed.
As Erika explained, this last task was a quite important, especially when it came to candy.
"All of the boxes have to go through Customs when they get to the (destination) country, and if they find that (candy) in there they'll stop the whole shipment."
It was during this time that Erika said she thought most about the kids who were going to receive the boxes. Short videos were also shown of adults who had been given a shoebox when they were children and what that gift means to them to this day.
"It was an eye-opener," she noted.
As for Christal, she says she was inspired to participate in this process by her neighbour who is over 80 years old and has been volunteering in this way for over a decade. "I just always thought to myself 'I really want to do that one day'."
An avid shoebox-filler herself, Christal admitted that she shops year-round for the initiative, and can now check this volunteer experience off of her bucket list.
"I absolutely loved every minute of the...days that we were there," she said, noting the mission of Samaritan's Purse really hit home for her. "You just realize how little many of the children in the world have and it just feels so good to be able to give."
Both Erika and Christal say they would encourage others to take part in this experience.
The duo says they are now inspired to re-ignite the effort in their hometown and church.