Operation Christmas Child launch, 2017 at Hope Church

HELPING HANDS: Operation Christmas Child's Bathurst co-ordinators Lyn Fitch, Di Coleman and Faye Taylor are launching the 2017 project this Saturday. Photo: PHIL BLATCH 071217pbchristmas1

HELPING HANDS: Operation Christmas Child's Bathurst co-ordinators Lyn Fitch, Di Coleman and Faye Taylor are launching the 2017 project this Saturday. Photo: PHIL BLATCH 071217pbchristmas1

THE Bathurst community has been asked to throw their support behind the launch of the 2017 Operation Christmas Child.

Held each year, the project distributes millions of gifts to children worldwide who are living in poverty, as refugees or those impacted by natural disasters.

Bathurst co-ordinator Faye Taylor said in the past the Bathurst community has been very generous: “Four years ago there was about 400 [gift] boxes, but there was 1700 last year.”

Ms Taylor said project participants are asked to fill a shoebox full of gifts.

While the chosen gifts can be up to individual participants, they are asked to fulfill six categories – something to love, something for school, something to play with, something special, something to wear and a personal hygiene item.

“It’s the world’s biggest international children’s project and it sends shoeboxes of gifts to children in need,” Ms Taylor said.

“It’s an easy way to help because the children who get these boxes may never have had a gift in their life.”

Ms Taylor said in previous years many community and school groups have joined forces to help pack boxes for Operation Christmas Child.

“Anyone can come to the launch … I’d really like to see lots of young people to come along or schools, churches and organisations,” she said.

In early 2016, Bathurst Operation Christmas Child co-ordinator Lisa Limbrick visited Fiji to help distribute the shoeboxes.

She said Cyclone Winston, which devastated Fiji early last year, has meant the need for gifts in this region is significant.

“It’s so heartbreaking to see very little has been done since the cyclone 16 months ago,” Ms Limbrick said.

“The village we went to was one of the hardest hit – their crops were completely destroyed and will only reap the first harvest in September this year.”

This year’s Operation Christmas Child launch will be a Christmas in July theme afternoon tea this Saturday from 2-4pm at Hope Church on the corner of Gilmour and Hereford streets.

RSVP your attendance at Saturday’s launch by calling Lisa Limbrick on  0402 323 733, Faye Taylor on 0418 167 958 or Lyn Fitch on 0400 090 313.

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