Over the past decade, Clarence Valley people have supported the Combined Churches Ladies Fellowship of Maclean’s Samaritan’s Purse Shoebox Appeal.
Maclean woman, Glenys Irons, says she hopes this year’s appeal will exceed last year’s, when the Lower Clarence filled 680 boxes with “useful and fun Christmas gifts” that were distributed to children living in poverty in the Southeast Asian region – in 2014, 734 shoeboxes were dispatched.
Glenys told a story about her visit to Papua New Guinea (PNG), to find the battlefield where her brother, 19-year-old Private Allen Arden Lobban, was killed during WWII.
Glenys and her husband, John, along with other family members, made the pilgrimage to the battlefield in the Northern Province’s Buna/Gona region.
Their story was told in the October 21, 2011 edition of PNG newspaper, The National Weekender.
“The Irons Family visited the Lobban’s gravesite at the old Gona War Cemetery and found the area where he was likely to have been killed,” the newspaper reported.
“In the process, we met these wonderful villagers,” says Glenys. “They were beautiful people, and the children were very happy and well behaved.
“But they had no toys, no vehicles and no electricity; the nearest road was 30 kilometres down the track, so there was nothing developed at all on the black volcanic soil next to the ocean.
“They’d never received shoeboxes at the time … but they are being delivered to children in New Guinea now.”
It was an experience that provided extra motivation to continue her work on the annual shoebox appeal.
According to the Operation Christmas Child website (www.samaritanspurse.org.au), “every year, people of all ages, families, churches, schools and businesses pack shoeboxes with gifts.
“Globally, more than 125 million shoeboxes have been given to kids in need in more than 130 countries since 1993.”
Glenys says that the boxes are distributed to “children who have never before received a gift, who have probably never owned anything”.
“For those children who have never had toys, receiving a ball, a bag of balloons, marbles or a whistle … and many other things our imagination can provide; it is truly wonderful for them,” she says.
Shoeboxes and leaflets are available at Riverland Travel in Maclean, the Presbyterian Op Shop in Yamba and most of the churches in the Lower Clarence, or contact coordinator Glenys Irons on 6646 4296 or 0429 184 611.
Filled boxes should be delivered to Riverland Travel by Friday September 23.
A small donation of $9 (in an envelope) or more should be included, too. This covers the costs of printing, storage and import duties.
The Operation Christmas Child website recommends the inclusion of something from each of six categories: something to wear, something to play with, something for school, something to love, something special, and something for personal hygiene.