By Jessie Archambault
Interior decorating students filled shoeboxes with school supplies, accessories and toys for children in need as part of the Christmas shoeboxes initiative earlier this month.
“If it’s about helping, I’ll do it,” said Cecilia Garcia, 21, who participated for the first time this year with classmates.
The shoeboxes were distributed and collected by Algonquin staff members for Operation Christmas Child, an international campaign through Samaritan’s Purse for children in Africa to receive gifts around the holiday season.
S.J. Normand, the interior design program coordinator, challenges her students each year to participate as best they can in the charitable activity.
“They fill the boxes and I pay for the shipping,” she said.
Anyone picking up a box is required to fill it with goodies, write a note to the child that will receive it and provide $7 for the shipping cost. First and second year interior decorating students have filled just over 30 shoeboxes this year, according to Normand.
The shoeboxes were available at the information desk in C-building because it is a high traffic area. Shirley Haug, the orchestrator at the college, brings the boxes to the desk and picks them up to bring to the designated drop-off spot in Ottawa.
“It’s open to everyone,” said Haug.
The shoeboxes have been part of the college for the past six years, said Haug. Operation Christmas Child has been sending gifts to children around the world for 23 years.
“Our family does it every year since the kids were little,” she said.
When filling a box, one must decide if the gifts will be for a boy or a girl. Haug gave some examples of what she puts in a shoebox.
“It’s little dollar store gifts,” she said.
“You want to give them a lot, but it has to be small, It’s challenging,” she said.
Children in poorer countries enjoy small toys like rubber balls which isn’t always available to them. Haug said they usually use coconuts as balls to play.
Garcia brought erasers, pencils and hair elastics to place in the shoeboxes. Others brought candy, colouring books and crayons. In the classroom, a whole table was crowded by little gifts as they started filling the shoeboxes.
The students were looking through all the items going into the boxes and were envying the children receiving them, said Normand.
“I’ve never heard of this concept before,” said Maria Szilvasi, an interior decorating student. “It’s a worthwhile cause.”