Operation Christmas Child coordinator Lynda Rea displays the shoeboxes now available from Richmond Mall’s information desk. Photo: Emily Beaumont.

A shoebox for Christmas

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There’s nothing like seeing a child’s eyes light up as they unwrap presents on Christmas morning, but for many children around the world it’s a pleasure they’re often denied.

That’s where the charity Operation Christmas Child (OCC) steps in as the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind, using gift-filled shoeboxes to send to children in poverty to ensure they have the enjoyment of unwrapping a present on Christmas Day.

“Most of these children have never received a gift before and for some it’s life-changing,” says local coordinator Lynda Rea.

Last year, 1203 gift-filled shoeboxes through OCC were sent from our region to children in the South Pacific and South East Asia, they were combined with other shoeboxes from around New Zealand and Australia to make a total of 327,451 shoeboxes.

Preprinted shoeboxes are available now from the Richmond Mall and Manna Bookstore in Montgomery Square to be filled with simple gifts from six categories: something to love, something to wear, something for personal hygiene, something to play with, something for school and something special.

Once filled the boxes need to be returned to the mall during or before Labour weekend they’ll then be sent to Auckland in preparation to reach the children by Christmas.

“It’s something simple that anyone can do. It’s amazing seeing videos of the kids when they open the boxes, it really melts my heart. I know we have issues here in New Zealand but this is a whole other level of poverty. It’s so nice to give to people less-fortunate than yourself,” says Lynda.