Written by Colleen Schmidt
The assembly line at Samaritan’s Purse is usually loaded up with shoeboxes at this time of year but the typhoon in the Philippines has prompted volunteers to turn their efforts to help those impacted by the disaster.
Operation Christmas Child was started in 1990 and has collected and distributed over 100 million shoeboxes bulging with hygiene items, school supplies, toys and candy.
National collection week for the shoebox campaign gets under way next week but volunteers are already on the line putting together thousands of hygiene boxes for families in the Philippines.
10,000 of the boxes have been designated for the country and the charity says they could be there as soon as the end of the week.
“In a disaster situation like this, you can appreciate, people are uprooted. They’re living in conditions, en masse, that nobody expected people to live in and so hygiene is so important,” said Fred Weiss, Executive Director of Samaritan’s Purse Canada. “If we can get these boxes packed and ready and on a cargo plane within two days they can be in people’s hands.”
Hopewell Residential has been pitching in on Remembrance Day for the last 15 years and on Monday 170 employees spent the day at Samaritan’s Purse packing about 6000 boxes.
“It’s devastating to see what’s happening on the news and people that are suffering and so you’re arms-length already away from it and I think all of us wish that we could be doing something other than writing cheques during times like this and so to be here and actually putting in time and seeing where these boxes ultimately will go to people and families and give them the support that they need in this time of incredible crisis is hugely meaningful,” said Lesley Conway, from Hopewell Real Estate.
“Each one of these kits is filled with soaps, toothbrushes, hair brushes, a variety of soap materials to clean laundry, for washing themselves, and we hope to get these shipped out very quickly,” said Weiss.
Samaritan’s Purse already has one disaster response team on the ground in the Philippines and a second team is being readied. The team has already distributed 4000 of the kits as well as food supplies.
“We have a Disaster Assistance Response Team on the ground right now and we’re just putting together our second DART team, we’ll have some more Canadians on it,” said Weiss. “The disaster is massive, getting people back into stable, safe living conditions is the priority right now to look after their immediate needs.”
The charity expects to be in the Philippines for months, maybe years, helping rebuild damaged communities.
The Canadian government has pledged $5 M to Philippine disaster assistance and has also agreed to match dollar for dollar every donation made by Canadians to a charity earmarked for Philippine typhoon relief.
Samaritan's Purse responds to humanitarian crises with physical aid and a message of spiritual hope for victims of natural disasters, famine, poverty, and war. Your gift will allow us to share Jesus' love through clean water, food, shelter, medical supplies, personnel, and other aid.