By Dorothy Isted
Special to The Pioneer
During the Christmas season, people have come to expect requests from charities to help someone somewhere. It is, after all, the season of giving.
For several years now, Lake Windermere Alliance Church has been involved in co-ordinating Operation Christmas Child for the valley. The concept is simple: fill a shoebox with small clothing items, school, sanitation supplies, and, of course, toys.
Children in over 100 countries get invited to a kid-themed party. None of them know theyre in for a surprise: a shoebox filled with delights. Samaritans Purse is a Canadian charity with its headquarters in Calgary, and the shoebox program is just one of their projects. They are committed to providing safe water, food, clothing, shelter, educational resources and medical help to impoverished people, regardless of race, religion or gender. Closer to home, the organization helped in flood restoration projects in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
The church had a surprise this year: 80 shoeboxes from one source.
Keara Moore, the employee engagement co-ordinator for Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, is part of a six-person team developing a workplace culture designed to help employees love where they live and work. They have the lofty goal of taking part in both a local and a global community initiative each month of the year. Keara suggested they do the Operation Christmas Child shoebox program for the month of October.
She expected theyd do maybe 30 boxes.
I had no idea how it would fly but they were totally into it, she said.
Only two of the resort employees had ever heard of the program, but the enthusiasm was palpable. One person said to her: I love that this is a tangible way for me to give back.
Keara had to make three trips to the church to get more shoeboxes. Employees enjoyed the project so much they decided to make it their October 2016 global initiative, and they plan on challenging other resorts and businesses in the valley to take on the project too.
Alliance church folks met after church on November 22nd to fill boxes with donated items. About 270 boxes were shipped. Volunteer drivers will deliver them to the Samaritans Purse depot in Calgary from where theyll be flown to recipient countries.
In 2014, Canadians donated over 700,000 shoeboxes.
To learn more about Samaritans Purse and Operation Christmas Child, visit www.samaritanspurse.ca or contact the Lake Windermere Alliance Church at 250-342-9535.