COMOX VALLEY, B.C. – An annual charity drive has begun.

The Samaritan’s Purse-run Operation Christmas Child Shoebox campaign runs across all of Canada.

It allows residents to pick up a shoebox at participating churches in their community serving as collection centres for the project.

The boxes are filled with items like school supplies, and hygiene products for children who live in poverty in developing countries.

“We collect the boxes and distribute them seeking to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way through each shoebox gift,” said Kara Walsh, the campaign’s logistics coordinator.

“Operation Christmas Child is a really important way to remind children suffering as a result of war, poverty, famine, disease and natural disaster that they’re loved and not forgotten.”

Walsh said the campaign has been running for 25 years.

“It’s a really big year for us to celebrate. In that time, we have delivered more than 157-million shoeboxes to over 130 countries,” she noted.

“Go ahead, go out, grab a shoebox, fill it up, and challenge your family to fill a shoebox, challenge your co-workers, or kids at school. If you have any donations, we ask that they be brand new.”

Walsh said they prefer that shoeboxes be picked up from participating collection centres. She explained that this makes it easier for crews to pack the boxes up into cartons and deliver them to the project’s headquarters in Calgary, as opposed to participants using their own shoeboxes.

In the Comox Valley, the boxes can be picked up at the collection centre based out of the Comox Pentecostal Church.

Shoeboxes can also be picked up at John’s Your Independent Grocer in Comox, both Quality Foods locations in the Valley, as well as the two Dollar Stores in Courtenay, according to Walsh.

Donations need to be in by November 17th. For more details, visit www.samaritanspurse.ca/ operation-christmas-child.