Plum Coulee gives from the heart

Regional Collections Centre Organizer Gerry Unger and Domestic Field Manager for Operation Christmas Child in Canada Kendra Shields helped load shoeboxes Nov. 20 as the community of Plum Coulee set yet another record. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Winkler Times)

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Operation Christmas Child was another success in Plum Coulee and the surrounding area.

As Plum Coulee celebrated their tree lighting event, they also came together with shoe boxes as part of the annual Samaritan’s Purse initiative.

Described as a hands-on way for Canadians to bless struggling children in the developing world by filling shoeboxes with toys, hygiene items, school supplies, and other items, the annual event in Plum Coulee collects more show boxes than there are residents.

Last year’s local total was 1,181, and this year 1,295 shoe boxes were collect. Regionally that number is much higher and the count as of Nov. 23 was more than 3,300.

“It’s quite amazing how much support Samaritan’s Purse is getting from local communities,” Regional Collections Centre Organizer Gerry Unger said.

Now in his 20th and last year of holding that position, Unger said he believes the region is very generous.

“I believe this area is an area of giving,” he said.

Kendra Shields, Domestic Field Manager for Operation Christmas Child in Canada was also on hand, and she was excited with the local response.

“It’s just such a privilege for us to be in the field,” she said. “We have 700 volunteers like Gerry that serve all across the country, that work all year long promoting Operation Christmas Child and preparing for national collection week which happens the third week of November every year.”

Shields said they are happy to come to Plum Coulee, a community that out gives the population in the number of shoe boxes.

“That’s just amazing and it’s a testimony to the dedication and hard work of the volunteers,” she said. “It’s humbling for us to see the sacrifice with which people give and their commitment to give.”

Every year millions of shoe boxes are distributed to children in about 100 developing countries, but Shields said it’s not all about the supplies.

“Operation Christmas Child for us is all about sharing the love of Jesus with children through a simple shoe box gift,” she said. “It’s important for them to know that they are loved and there’s a God that loves them and knows them.”

Shields said they often see a child find something in a shoe box which resonates with them personally, evidence that there’s a God that knows them.

“It’s not just about a shoe box, it’s not about toys, it’s not about making sad children happy, although shoe boxes do those things,” she said. “The most important thing for us is that we have an opportunity to tell them about the love of Jesus as we give the shoe box gift.”

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