Meander Valley Gazette

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Samaritan in a Shoe Box

Events, NewsJoanne EisemannComment
Bernadette-Whitcombe-and-Mark-Leonard-work-together-packing-good-samaritan-boxes.jpg

AUGUST 2018 | Lorraine Clarke

THE DAYS when our children play happily for hours with an empty cardboard box are sadly far too few.

Imagine the delight of a child so poor that he or she has never had even an empty box, on being presented with a shoebox crammed with goodies from an unknown faraway friend!

Samaritan’s Purse is an international charity which packs and distributes shoeboxes full of love and treasure for children in impoverished countries. Mark and Dorothy Leonard from Westbury, Regional Co-ordinators who have been putting heart and soul into this for many years, would love to share their experience with you.

In 2017, Meander Valley residents contributed 700 of Tasmania’s total of 16,400 boxes which went to Cambodia. This year, they are aiming to delight 18,000 needy children with Christmas boxes. Collection date is in October, so there is still time for families, groups and individuals to get involved in this worthwhile endeavour that can change a child’s life.

Bernadette Whitcombe, another Regional Co-ordinator, began packing boxes with her young family. “It teaches our children to share,” she explained. “For many recipients, this will be the first present they have ever received.”

Boxes are graded for boys or girls according to age groups. All items packed must be safe and new. A helpful brochure lists categories of items suitable for stuffing boxes. Something to Wear, Something to Love, Something Special, Something for School, Something to Play With, Something for Personal Hygiene.

A hat, T-shirt or sandals and soft toys are good choices. Skipping ropes, tennis balls, a cloth carry bag to hold treasures when the box wears out. Soap, a face washer, toothbrush and scrunchies are excellent inclusions. Finger puppets, a musical instrument, stickers, marbles, a wind-up torch. A photograph and a personal note from the donor makes the gift special.

Samaritan’s Purse is run by volunteers. There are no administrative overheads to deplete funds donated to them. In-state transport of completed boxes is generously provided by several trucking companies. It is only when the filled containers leave Australian shores that fees accrue.

To cover printing plus international shipping and distribution costs, it is asked that a $10 note be included in every box. Printed boxes can be obtained through Samaritan’s Purse, or wrap a shoebox in attractive paper, sized to fit on an A4 sheet.

Volunteers work in many countries, liaising with officials who may be wary of foreign intervention, accurately numbering children to ensure that nobody in a village misses out, and personally handing out gifts at each destination. They relate heart-warming stories of joy as children open their cache of treasures.

A fundraising High Tea to support this year’s effort will be held at the Westbury Baptist Church on Sunday 19th August at 2.00 pm. RSVP by 12th August to Mark or Dorothy on 6393 2422, or Bernadette on 0448 577 409.

Photo | Mike Moores