Kids learn the meaning of Christmas

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By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario - Teaching the meaning of Christmas at an after school program started as a lesson in holiday spirit and ended with children in third-world countries getting presents.

The Tri-County Literacy Council’s Community Homework and After School Program (CHAP) got into the holiday spirit early this season, as they participated in Operation Christmas Child.

The Community Homework and After School Program (CHAP), administered by the Tri-County Literacy Council, participated in Operation Christmas Child. The Samaritan’s Purse program sends gift-filled shoeboxes to kids living in poverty, disease and war.

CHAP filled 12 shoeboxes with toys, school supplies, hygienic items and candy. Most of the donations came from the 22 children that participated.

“The entire purpose of the project was for them to understand the importance of giving.” said Sayqa Akhtar, CHAP coordinator. “And to have a little bit of the feeling of it’s not just receiving, Christmas is not just about getting presents and all the fun stuff.”

For Donna Riviere, CHAP literacy worker, it was clear that learning the gift of giving can never come too early. She was amazed at how quickly the boxes were filled.

“The children really had fun going with their parents to buy things to donate,” said Riviere. “They were really excited to take part in this.”

CHAP is an after school program for children ranging from kindergarten through grade eight. It is funded by the Royal Bank of Canada.

“We had to tell one child to stop bringing things in,” adds Ahktar. “They were coming in with new things every day. We didn’t have any more room in the boxes.”

Operation Christmas Child was started in 1990. In 1993, Operation Christmas Child grew 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.

Organizations: Royal Bank of Canada, Christian organization

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