“Operation Christmas Child” Driven by 80-year Old in Tasmania

  • 11 October 2011

Jo Hunter delivers 150 boxes for shipping to children in Vietnam

“North Vietnam, where our little boxes are going, has been struck by a horrendous typhoon. These people had precious little before the disaster, and now what they had is washed away in floods.”

So says Jo Hunter, a resident of Glanara Lakes retirement facility in Launceston, Tasmania. The eighty-year old, motivated by compassion, and determined not to rest when there are good works to be done, spearheaded a Christmas project for the children in the stricken area.

Seventy per cent of the targeted families live above the snow line, and Ms Hunter felt their needs more acutely than her own discomforts.

Jo's hope has been to fill a shipping container with shoe boxes and send it off in time to arrive by Christmas. She put that hope into action, and on 8 October, she happily handed 150 completed boxes to Samaritan's Purse, a world-wide humanitarian agency, for delivery.

Fifty more boxes are yet under way. Each is tailored to the needs of a child between the ages of two to fourteen. Each contains a bear, beanie, ball, scarf, knitted pencil case, eraser, t-shirt, notebook, toy, stickers, and a small hygiene pack that includes a toothbrush, under-pants, soap and washer.

In addition, $9 had to be raised for each box to cover shipping costs.

Many hands made light work of the knitting for the gift boxes

Jo enlisted members of the Glanara Knitting Club and every capable knitter in her retirement home to make a range of gifts with Australian wool. Even visitors who chanced to stop in were recruited to knit. At least fifty shirt tops were knitted for the two to four year-olds. Teddy bears, koalas and kittens took their places in the boxes beside knitted hats and scarves.

“Those who could not knit or shop were generous in their donations of goods and money,” reported Jo. “Our Facility Manager has been extremely supportive of the Project, and she and the management have donated heavily to our costs.”

Another generous donation came from the Villa Management committee.

The Young Men and Young Women Organizations of Jo's Latter-day Saint ward also participated, while Catholic young people in the community constructed the boxes.

Ms Hunter likens the project to a well-known children's song: “Give,” said the Little Stream, as it hurried down the hill. “I'm small, I know, but wherever I go, the fields grow greener still.”

Surely, because of Jo Hunter and a long stream of willing helpers, fields in North Vietnam will seem greener to 200 children.