Peterborough Petes trainer Brian Miller is more motivated than ever to help underprivileged children in third world countries.
Written by Mike Davies
Miller and his wife Esther saw the needs firsthand when they travelled with Operation Christmas Child to Senegal in 2016 and El Salvador in 2017. COVID-19 has only increased the hardships for children in the last 20 months.
“Countries that were in need before the pandemic are in even greater need now because of how it has ravaged different communities and families,” Miller said.
Miller has been involved in the Operation Christmas Child shoebox campaign since 1998. In 2014, he introduced it to Petes fans, encouraging them to pack a shoebox with school supplies, hygiene products and toys to be distributed through the Christian aid organization Samaritan’s Purse.
Shoeboxes packed in Canada go to children in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Senegal, The Republic of The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea and Sierra Leone
Between 2014 and 2019, Petes fans donated 210 and 360 shoeboxes annually but there was no campaign through the team last year with the OHL season cancelled.
Miller and the Auburn Bible Chapel on Armour Road collected more than 100 boxes last year by promoting it on social media.
“What I’d like to do is jump-start and get back to the momentum we had before the pandemic of collecting shoeboxes,” Miller said.
“The number of shoeboxes in all of Peterborough was down as a result of the pandemic. I’d like to remind people of it and refresh their memories of what it’s all about because it’s been a year that has hit a lot of people hard.
“As hard as we’ve been hit in Peterborough, Ontario and Canada, there are countries that have been hit a lot harder than us. These kids in other countries need to know there is still hope for them regardless of their situation now.”
Miller said the shoebox is a gift that tells these children someone cares about them.
“It’s life-changing for a number of kids,” he said. “You hear the stories from Operation Christmas Child about how dramatic some of those life-changing stories are.”
Fans can pick up a shoebox at a table in the Memorial Centre’s east lobby during Thursday’s game against the Hamilton Bulldogs and Nov. 4 against the North Bay Battalion.
The boxes should be returned to the same table at the Nov. 18 game against Hamilton.
Each box comes with a letter recommending what should or shouldn’t be packed in each box.
More information can be found or donations made at www.samaritanspurse.ca.