I believe the Bible when it says, “He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor” (Proverbs 22:9). There are spiritual and emotional blessings that come when we give to others, especially those in challenging life situations. And this time of year I can think of nothing better to give to than Operation Christmas Child.
Can you imagine living in a world with no Christmas? What does that look like?
There are no kids eager to wake you up at 7:00 a.m…no smiles when a gift is received…no feelings of being special…no thoughts that someone cares for you.
What an unattractive and dismal scenario. Sadly, millions of children all over the world experience a Christmas just like this. Their Christmas is bitter, meaningless and without hope.
That’s where Operation Christmas Child steps in. But they are only able to do so with your help. Here is how.
Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Program
I became aware of Operation Christmas Child over a decade ago. OCC is an outreach ministry of Samaritan’s Purse International Relief headed by Franklin Graham. Churches, civic organizations and single families have all been a part of OCC’s efforts for over 20 years. Their purpose is to bring hope and joy to children all over the world and to share the message of Jesus Christ’s love found in the Bible.
This is accomplished in a unique way – the sending of a shoebox – actually millions of shoeboxes
Each shoebox comes to a child filled with small toys, stuffed animals, hard candy, personal care items, books, hair bows, pens and pencils, bouncy balls, matchbox cars, rubber spiders, bracelets – pretty much anything small enough to fit inside a shoebox.
And who initially buys all the items and packs them?
We do of course.
My family has been packing shoeboxes for years now and it has become one of the highlights of the holiday season. Our kids love shopping for the items (sometimes with a bit of their own money) and then neatly arranging them in the boxes. We’ve even included handwritten notes or pictures in some of ours.
Our church is also involved in the program. The families in our church pack their own boxes. Some donate money for us to purchase items. We have a team of people that take the donations and buy items for the boxes. Then our youth group gets together for a special night of packing the boxes.
Once they are filled, dropped off and scanned at the processing center, we can follow our box’s movements online (through tracking technology) to see its final destination. It’s really cool to know your boxes end up in places like Madagascar, Columbia or the Philippines.
Kid’s lives change when they receive these precious boxes. They feel the love and compassion of the sender with each item they touch. However, they are not the only ones involved in the shoebox process that goes through a transformation. The sender does as well.
I see it every year. Something changes in our spirit as we choose to give of our resources to help those in need. That’s because giving is selfless. It brings us joy in ways we can’t imagine. And it humbly reminds us of our blessings.
So we will continue to stay involved with this tremendous outreach. Even now it’s not too late to donate items or money this year. You can go the Operation Christmas Child website to find out how you can be involved. Or you can connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.
The website details the program and provides instructions on how to pack your items. There is a listing of drop-off centers where you can take the boxes. It shouldn’t be difficult to locate a drop-off center close to where you live, as this is a big-time operation. Since 1993, 100 million shoeboxes have been sent across the globe, so many people are involved with this project.
The process is simple. The cause is worthy. The rewards are great – for both the recipient and for you.
So brighten a child’s day this Christmas with a shoebox message of hope. It may be what brings you the most joy this holiday season.
Questions: Have you ever sent a shoebox to Operation Christmas Child before? What other non-present ways do you plan to give this Christmas? What charities are doing incredible work in your community?