Lloydminster families are supporting children around the world with the 26th annual Operation Christmas Child.

Last year, 2800 shoeboxes were filled by families from Lloydminster and surrounding areas and sent to children in other countries. Samaritan’s Purse is the organization that puts on the event each year.

Lloydminster volunteer Ken Hastings says the initiative has school participation every year. The organization sent out boxes to the community over the past couple of weeks so families and schools have time to fill them with items.

“To hear here the joy and laughter from our own children putting into those boxes, there is also that experience on the other end that when a child opens the lid in another country that joy and laughter seem to come out.”

The boxes will head to Calgary in order to get processed before heading to countries such as South America and Africa.

There are five categories of items placed into the shoeboxes after being arranged through age group and gender. Children will receive items such as toys, school supplies and health and hygiene products.

Hastings says it’s exciting to work with local businesses and then see the result of the community’s support once the boxes come in.

“One of those has the potential to really provide a gift of joy, hope to a child in another country.”

He adds he won’t forget those moments he gave out boxes in other countries.

“Just the sheer joy the child has when they open the box, but also the grateful hugs and words of the appreciation.”

In Lloydminster, shoe boxes can be picked up and dropped off at Southridge Community Church, Your Dollar Store With More, Spiro’s, Silverwood Toyota and Safeway.

“This area is noted for its generosity when it comes to all causes, local or global. To build that momentum into Operation Christmas Child is so satisfying after realizing we have a whole community of excitement and support behind us.”

The collection date for the shoeboxes will be between November 18 to 23. Nationally, over 600 thousand boxes have been sent to children worldwide.