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Abbotsford woman will help deliver shoeboxes to kids in Senegal

Abbotsford residents bought thousands of shoeboxes for the Operation Christmas Child program in 2013. - Submitted photo
Abbotsford residents bought thousands of shoeboxes for the Operation Christmas Child program in 2013.
— image credit: Submitted photo

For one Abbotsford woman, packing shoeboxes full of goodies for children and sending them to Africa has become a Christmas tradition.

Tricia Dumouchel has been participating in the Samaritan’s Purse flagship program, called Operation Christmas Child, since she was a child herself, and has packed about 36 boxes in her lifetime. Like many other families, Dumouchel first started doing it with her mom during Christmas season. They would pick up gifts for themselves, and add in items for the shoebox, like toiletries, toys, and pencils.

“I look forward to it every year. It’s almost that nostalgia for Christmas,” says Dumouchel, who is the marketing director at Sevenoaks Shopping Centre.

After so many years shipping shoeboxes, Dumouchel decided she wanted to accompany the gifts all the way to their destination. She has signed on to a national volunteer team that is heading to Senegal in July to visit some of the recipients.

She believes in the shoebox program as a fun way to give back.

“It’s an opportunity to give hope and love to those children that won’t necessarily get a Christmas gift. I’ve been collecting boxes since I was at least 12 years old … I have always had a heart for it. It’s part of my Christmas tradition. It’s always something I go and shop for, and help children in need.”

Last year, Abbotsford’s regional collection centre received 11,438 shoeboxes, an increase from 9,000 in 2007. In the Fraser Valley region, nearly 22,000 boxes were collected in 2013.

The Senegal trip will be Dumouchel’s first to the continent. She says she is excited and a little nervous.

“I’m really looking forward to going to Africa to see a different perspective. I think it’s going to change a lot of my mindset and a lot of my perspective.”

Dumouchel and 19 other volunteers with Samaritan’s Purse will be in Senegal from July 16 to 26, 2014. To help Dumouchel cover the $3,500 cost of the trip, she invites people to her online profile at sponsorme.samaritan.ca/sponsor/Triciadumouchel/.

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