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

Debbie DeKlein from the Blumenort Community Church says over 6000 shoeboxes were sent out to the Calgary Samaritan’s Purse Distribution Centre on Sunday.

Earlier in November, DeKlein says, 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. She says they “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.”

This number is higher than last year, which was a different kind of year all around. Though their highest number of OCC Shoeboxes put together by their church was just over 800 which means, “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.

She says 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.

DeKlein gives some of the numbers of shoeboxes received. Blumenort and area, including Steinbach, Landmark, La Broquerie, Mitchell and Blumenort, collected 4158 while the Grunthal area brought in 1,849 shoeboxes, which totals 6,007

These numbers are up significantly than last year. Blumenort’s total is 450 higher and Grunthals’ total is about 300 more last year. “That’s definitely lots of boxes to go,” says DeKlein.

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. Or perhaps you meant to do it this year, you still can, the Samaritan's Purse online store is always open. 

The coordinator for O.C.C. Shoeboxes in the southeast says, each year 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. So, 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. Because every single box is going to make a difference in somebody.”