For nearly ten years now, two women from Blumenort have put together an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox store in their church lobby. 

Debbie deKlein and Lindsey Plett from the Blumenort Community Church took their OCC bins out of storage, went shopping for items they didn’t have enough of, and then set up their shoe store last week.

Lindsey Plett (left) and Debbie deKlein in the Blumenort Community Church Operation Christmas Child Shoebox StoreLindsey Plett (left) and Debbie deKlein at the 2022 Blumenort Community Church Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Store.

deKlein says, “We shop throughout the year. We try and find sales and stuff like that and then we do like, a really big shop sometime in the fall. Then we come here on Monday and set everything up and run the store for the week and then on Saturday, we take it all down.” 

Plett says it’s been really busy. “We get a lot of youth groups that come through, so the evenings are packed. Then during the day, we get different people, homeschoolers, seniors, and people that have time.” 

They note there are also a lot of grandparents that come through with their grandchildren. deKlein says, “it’s a great way to introduce the kids to packing shoeboxes which is easy to do. They don't have to be running to ten different stores because we had all of the stuff here and this stuff is good to go in a shoebox, you don't have to question whether it is.”  

Plett chimes in, “And a lot of people have made it a tradition, so we've seen a lot of people come back every year with their grandkids or with their families. Plus, there's cookies and coffee, and they take a picture of them to put in the box. So, it's a really fun tradition.” 

Though the Blumenort Shoebox store is now closed, it had everything one would need to fill up shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse. deKlein says, “We had dolls, all the school supplies, markers, crayons, pencils, crayons, coloring books, lots of toys, and lots of clothes and hygiene items.”

Hygiene items to put into OCC ShoeboxesHygiene items to put into OCC Shoeboxes

deKlein says when someone would come in to put together a shoebox, they'd encourage people to start with the important items like “hygiene stuff, soap, washcloth, toothbrush, some underwear, socks, and shirts. Then perhaps for the older girls things for their hair.” 

Though this shoebox store was only open for one week, both ladies still encourage as many people that want to and are able, to put together a shoebox with items that can be found at other shoebox stores in the area, homemade items, whatever fits into a shoebox-sized container. Then once it’s filled, you are asked to drop them off at the Blumenort Community Church between November 16 and 20.  

deKlein is also southeast Manitoba's Logistics Coordinator for Operation Christmas Child for shoebox drop-offs. She says, “We'll just pack them up here and they go off to Calgary.

"So, you can pick up empty boxes and there's still lots of time to do that. We have some here, but there are also several businesses in town that have them. You don't have to spend a lot of time filling them up or even necessarily a lot of money on it. And then drop them off at your local church if you want, that works too, or bring it over here.”

Debbie deKlein beside the growing stack of filled OCC shoeboxes dropped off at the Blumenort Community Church.Debbie deKlein beside the growing stack of filled OCC shoeboxes already dropped off at the church in Blumenort (as of November 4).

The 2022 Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Drop-off location in the southeast is at the Blumenort Community Church, 59 Centre Street, Blumenort, during office hours and also some evenings. deKlein says the transport truck will be leaving Sunday, November 20 from their church parking lot and heading out to Calgary where the Samaritan's Purse distribution centre is located. 

deKlein says from there the boxes will be shipped out to countries around the world like Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, as well as several countries in Africa including Guinea, Guinea Bissau, and around the western coast of the continent. Plett notes that this year shoeboxes will also be going to Ukraine and the Philippines. 

Those who have not had the opportunity to visit a shoebox store can also to the Samaritan’s Purse website. “There are a few items that you can select on the website. You can still personalize your box. It will get packed and shipped for this year as well.”

deKlein says that last year residents of southeast Manitoba donated just under 4,000 shoeboxes, while at the Blumenort Shoebox store they try to put together between 700-750 boxes.

Plett says they are on track to collect more than 800 boxes this year. "So that's really exciting!" 

deKlein thanks everyone who has already and those who still wish to put together an OCC Shoebox, "no matter whether you are skilled or not with packing shoeboxes, every box counts, so pack lots." 

How it works: 

-Pick up an empty shoebox 
-Fill it with toys, school supplies, clothes, and much more. 
-Take a photo of you and your family and fill out a paper to put in with your shoebox so the child knows who sent it. 
-Make a donation to cover shipping and the shoebox contents. (Any donation you choose) 
-Invite all your friends and family and make a new Christmas tradition that sends good news and great joy!