MANITOULIN—For several years now, around this time of year Amie Morphet of Green Bay would find herself diligently packing the red and green Christmas shoeboxes of the Samaritan’s Purse into their shipping containers, waving goodbye as the Manitoulin Transport truck trundled off the Island and as the gifts of Yuletide compassion began their journey to remote tiny villages and communities located at the far ends of the earth. This year, Ms. Morphet will be going with them.
Ms. Morphet is a member of Little Current’s Grace Bible Church and this year she decided to fill out the application to be part of the Operation Christmas Child mission effort. “God laid it on my heart that I should be doing more,” she said. “I applied to be part of the mission team, knowing that not everyone gets to go.”
Last Friday she found out that she had been selected to be part of the team.
So on February 13, Ms. Morphet and other members of the team will be boarding a plane at Toronto’s Pearson Airport and flying to Uruguay to meet up with the boxes and deliver them to the tiny hands of their recipients.
“I know it will involve a lot of hiking,” laughs Ms. Morphet when asked how the boxes reach the children they are meant for in the remote mountain villages. “We will be physically carrying the boxes along the paths to these communities, a lot of them do not have any roads to them.”
“I am just going to help the children because I have a passion for that,” said Ms. Morphet.
From February 14 to 27, Ms. Morphet and her team will be travelling the length and breadth of the South American country delivering the shoeboxes.
Each of those shoeboxes was filled by Canadians with hygiene items, school supplies, toys, and candy, and is intended for children regardless of gender, race, religion or age. When culturally appropriate, copies of a book entitled ‘The Greatest Gift’ are offered to children after the shoeboxes have already been distributed.
Following the shoebox distributions, local churches and ministry partners are equipped with a 12-lesson Bible study course, titled ‘The Greatest Journey,’ which introduces interested children to Jesus, shows them how to receive him and follow him, and equips them to share their faith with family and friends.
Ms. Morphet notes that the proselytizing component of the Christmas Child program is often downplayed. “There are a lot of anti-Christians out there who don’t approve,” she noted.
Operation Christmas Child began in 1990, but by 1993 Operation Christmas Child had grown substantially and was adopted by Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian organization run by Franklin Graham.
To date, Operation Christmas Child has collected and distributed over 100 million shoebox gifts worldwide. In 2012, Canadians donated more than 662,000 Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes for hurting children around the world. The effort from Manitoulin Island has added 10,325 of that number over the years, 678 this year alone.
Manitoulin Transport has played a crucial role in the effort every year, transporting the Island Yuletide largesse to the southern assembly point for operation Christmas Child each year. “We couldn’t manage it without them,” said Laila Kiviaho of Little Current.
Ms. Morphet in turn said that she was particularly grateful to Ms. Kiviaho “for inspiring me with the work she does within our church and giving me the desire to follow her example.”
Ms. Kiviaho has been a longtime stalwart of the Operation Christmas Child shoebox campaign and is a familiar figure with volunteer organizations in the community.