By Dorothy Preece
Children in Fiji and beyond will again receive Christmas boxes from all around New Zealand and Australia this year, thanks to public generosity. The charity ‘Samaritan’s Purse’ runs the gifting programme titled ‘Operation Christmas Child’ and each year communities are asked to pack the boxes for boys and girls aged 4 to 14.
Robyn Balfour is the local co-ordinator, responsible for collecting all the filled boxes in Mercury Bay.
On Sunday (29th) Robyn collected all the loose items that had yet to be packed, including a large number of gifts donated by Paper Plus Whitianga and many other generous individuals. A team of people then got busy choosing toys, clothing, stationery and toiletries to pack for the different age groups. When they were finished, 27 extra boxes had joined the pile.
“People are very generous,” Robyn said. “Every year we send hundreds of boxes from here, but costs are going up all the time, especially freight costs to get the boxes to the islands.”
In the island villages, every child is invited to a big Christmas party where the gifts are distributed. “These children have almost nothing to call their own,” Robyn said. “The videos of all the children excitedly opening their treasures is enough to make anyone cry. Thank you, everyone, for your generosity.”
Caption: “This is fun.” L-R: Madeline Saunders, Robyn Balfour, Elizabeth Nicholls, Julie St George and Gina Mahmud packing extra Christmas boxes.