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Operation Christmas Child: Changing Lives One Shoebox at a Time

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). Spiritual and emotional blessings 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. 

operation Christmas childCan 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 am. No smiles when a gift is received. No feelings of being special. And no comforting thoughts that someone cares for you.

What an unattractive and dismal scenario that paints. 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 decades. 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 they send millions of shoeboxes every year.

Each shoebox comes to a single child. Each shoebox is packed with pretty much anything small enough to fit inside the box. Small toys, stuffed animals, hard candy, personal care items, books, hair bows, bracelets, pens and pencils are some of the common items packed every year.

And who initially buys all the items and packs them for Operation Christmas Child?

We do of course.

Packing Shoeboxes

My family has packed many shoeboxes over the years. It always ends up being a highlight of the holiday season. I’ve noticed how 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.

Many churches are involved in the program. Families pack their own boxes and send them in. Others donate money to the church to buy the items for others to pack. It’s ends up being a great project for the church as a whole, especially when kids or teens participate.

Once all the boxes are filled and collected by your organization, they are dropped off and scanned at a local processing center. There are even options where you can follow your 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.

The Benefits of Operation Christmas Child

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.

Related Content: Giving is Part of Our Nature

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. So go the website to find out how you can be involved. Additionally, you can connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

The Operation Christmas Child website details the program and provides instructions on how to pack your items. Furthermore, 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, 200 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.

Leave a Comment or Answer a Question Below: 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?

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  1. It’s such a nice idea, Brian. I have known OCC and their purpose is one great help for some children who are out of school or need care or help.

  2. Student Debt Survivor says

    I haven’t sent shoeboxes before, but we do donate to our local (well my parent’s local) mission in my hometown. They do a “Christmas Child” program child that matches you with a local elementary school student whose parents can’t afford to buy gifts. You know the child’s age, sex and interests. Throughout the year I buy toys and clothing in a variety of sizes and styles. We like to buy for as many kids as we can. We always give a book, a game, a toy and an article of clothing (typically a hat or mittens preferably both).

  3. What a great idea! At my parish, we have a “giving tree” where, at the beginning of Advent, there are different gift tags with names of children and teens in our area who are underprivileged with a few items they would like to receive. We pick a few gift tags off the tree and go shopping for these kids and place the gifts under the tree before Christmas Eve so they can all be delivered in time for Christmas day. It’s humbling to see that these kids want simple things – sweaters, pajamas, beanies – and it opens my eyes to how fortunate and blessed I am.

  4. When I was a kid, we did this every single year with our school. It was a lot of fun and it was so nice to be able to bring a little joy to somebody else’s life. We were always so “spoiled” at Christmas, and always got tons of gifts, so why not pay it forward?

  5. Sounds a lot like my Christmas sadly. That’s a really cool thing! I take part in an adopt-a-family type thing that one of my volleyball friends organizes. He gets tons of volunteers and and have a wrap party and he and some other volunteers deliver them on Christmas. So I’ve enjoyed taking part in that the last couple of years.

  6. I believe I did this in the past, but it’s been some time. I saw some pamphlets for it in our local coffee shop and I really would like to do it. Would it be terrible if I just donated money instead, though? That’s a question I always ask. The process of picking out stuff can be fun, but I always seem to put off getting the box ready in time and therefore miss out on participating. Maybe I just need to get my priorities straight 😉

  7. Alexa Mason says

    I am definitely doing this this year. I need to go ahead and get started. I have a huge spot in my heart for less fortunate children and I think doing OCC is a fun and perfect learning opportunity for my two girls.

  8. FI Pilgrim says

    Thanks for sharing this Brian, we LOVE OCC. I’ve been to their sorting facility in Charlotte, NC a couple of times and worked some “shifts” packing the pallets full of boxes. It’s UNBELIEVABLE how many boxes they are able to distribute and how many kids lives are touched. Also, it’s a great way to get my kids involved in giving to needy kids. Just a great ministry all around.

    • I’ve been to the processing centers several times myself to help sort through all the boxes that come in. I didn’t quite understand how massive a project this is until I did that. Truly remarkable what this organization is doing to spread some joy around the world.


  1. […] to relax a little bit and catch up on time with dad. We’re also planning to shop for our Operation Christmas Child shoebox supplies so that we can turn that in tomorrow. It takes time to ship those things all over […]

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