FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Fort St. John and Prespatou families filled a combined 1,189 shoeboxes with gifts for children in other countries through Operation Christmas Child.

In BC, 53,789 shoeboxes were stuffed in 2021, a 17 per cent increase from 2020, out of 413,875 collected across Canada.

Samaritan’s Purse says the distribution of the shoeboxes around the world has already begun. During the next few weeks, children in Central America and western Africa will be receiving shoeboxes.

There are five categories of items placed into the shoeboxes after being arranged through age group and gender.

Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and hand-delivered more than 200 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in over 130 countries hurt by war, poverty, natural disaster, disease, and famine.

Many children who receive shoebox gifts will also enroll in Operation Christmas Child’s 12-lesson discipleship program, The Greatest Journey. The voluntary program teaches children about the Christian faith.

Since 2009, more than 23 million children have participated in the program. Every child who graduates is given a New Testament in their language.