The French Riviera branch of Operation Christmas Child, an initiative started in 1990 by non-profit organisation Samaritan’s Purse, is calling on the support of Riviera Insider readers for its 2018 push. Since the project began, it has sent over 146 million shoeboxes filled with gifts to vulnerable and disadvantaged children in 150 countries around the world.
Over the last few years, a group of expats in the south of France have banded together to organise a local effort, which has proven fruitful and well-received among the community, but more can always be done.
“Living on the French Riviera and bringing up [our] families in this lovely, privileged part of the world is a million miles away from the sort of lives many other families experience,” says Hazel Fowler. “Donating a fun-packed shoebox to Riviera Christmas Child is a simple something we can all do and get our children or grandchildren involved in too, to help them understand what life is like for deprived children in other countries.”
In 2017, the team helped pack and collect nearly 300 boxes that were sent on to children in the Ukraine and Libya. Their target for this winter’s is 400+.
“The cost of a shoebox and its transport is €5, which we ask people to pay on taking a box,” she continues. “Filled boxes should be returned to one of our team spread around the region by 15th October or by 16th October to our drop-off day in Vallauris. This allows us to get all the shoeboxes to one central point, pack them up and get them on a lorry to the OCC’s distribution centre in the UK in time to be delivered to the children for Christmas!”
The shoeboxes can be pre-ordered via the Samaritan’s Purse and the Riviera Christmas Child team or you can recycle any medium-sized shoebox you have at home, wrapped the lid and box separately in colourful paper and close it with a rubber band. You should also identify whether the box is intended for a boy or girl and also the target age group (two to four, five to nine, and 10 to 14). Those making their donation online can also print out a unique barcode and include a copy inside the box (on top of the contents) to follow their box and see which country it is eventually delivered to!
If you’d like to support the project, but maybe don’t have the spare time, Riviera Christmas Child will fill a box on your behalf for €25 (including the standard €5 to cover its shipping and delivery). The closing date for this option is 8th October and you can contact the team via the Facebook page to arrange payment.
“A small shoebox can have a big impact,” Hazel concludes. “What goes into the box is fun, but what comes out of it is eternal. Be a part of changing children’s lives all over the world through the power of a simple gift box with Riviera Christmas Child.”
What to pack?
Just the essentials:
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Flannel and bar of wrapped soap
- Comb or brush
- Set of pens, pencils or crayons
- Notepad and/or colouring book
- School supplies
- Edible treats (best before date must be at least March 2019 & avoid chocolate)
- Hats, caps, scarves, gloves, sunglasses or other easily packed apparel
- Toys such as skipping ropes, yoyos, balls and puzzles
- Cuddly or stuffed toys and dolls
- Hair accessories
- Small-sized musical instruments like a harmonica or recorder
- Wind-up torches
- A personal note and/or a photo of your family
Not to be included
- Used or damaged items: please purchase all gifts new
- War-related items such as toy guns, play soldiers or knives
- Anything of a political, racial or religious nature
- Liquids or lotions of any type including bubbles
- Sharp objects, glass containers, mirrors or fragile items
- Playing cards of the 4-suit variety
- Clothing other than the items suggested
Local information can be found at on the Facebook page, search: Riviera Christmas Child
For more information, please visit the official Samaritan’s Purse website: www.samaritans-purse.org.uk