Operation Christmas Child is close to Sue Wolf’s heart.
Sue grew up in East Germany where resources were scarce and churches were required to preach the communist doctrine.
As a child she remembers receiving a box of clothes, chocolate and other treats at Christmas time from residents in West Germany.
In a time and place where people had to line up to receive a banana, she says the box was a very special gift.
“I remember even keeping the wrappers on the Kleenex because the little packet opened and closed,” Sue says. “I would save my little treasures in the packet all year.”
Sue was 14 when the wall between West and East Germany came down in 1989 and she learned how people on the other side of the wall lived.
She became a nurse and worked in an operating room in West Germany where she met her husband Dr. Mike Wolf.
“He grew up completely differently from me,” Sue says. “He grew up in the free world on the west side of the wall where they could buy everything.”
Mike and Sue move to Switzerland for a few years, and then to Australia for a few years where they learned about the Operation Christmas Child program.
There she says they would have parties where people would get together to fill shoeboxes with little gifts for children in need around the world.
When Sue and her family moved to Canada five years ago they continued the tradition as a family with their children Amon, 19, Amely, 11, Johnny, 8, and Joseph, 6.
This year, rather than just filling their Operation Christmas Child boxes as a family, they decided to revive the community spirit they had enjoyed in Australia.
They invited neighbours, friends, and church friends to a pancake breakfast, cooked by Mike.
“Everyone was welcome to help us pack the boxes and bring joy to kids all over the planet,” Sue says.
All of the guests brought items for the gift boxes and after breakfast the group broke into teams to fill the boxes.
The adults filled the boxes for the teens and children filled boxes for their own age groups.
Each box was filled with a small toy, a T-shirt, a ball, crayons, notebook, stuffed toy, hair clips, hair brush and comb, tooth brush, headbands and other small items.
About 20 adults and children attended the event and filled 23 Operation Christmas Child boxes for children in need around the world.
They also put in a little something to let the children know the gift box is from Canada.
“This is the first year we have filled boxes in Canada with friends in a group,” Sue says.
“It was really fun and nice for the children because they knew their box would be going to a child in their same age group.”
She also likes the fact that Operation Christmas Child is Christian program.
Growing up in East Germany she said church services were restricted to preaching the communist ideology.
“I became a Christian, so for me it is very important for people to find out about Jesus.”
She said their son Amon, who is now attending university in Prince George, met a boy from Mexico who received Operation Christmas Child boxes as a child and appreciated the gifts so much that he became a Christian.
“He told Amon that receiving the boxes was awesome and really made a difference in his life,” Sue says.