One of our family’s favorite Christmas traditions is packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. Operation Christmas Child is part of Samaritan’s Purse who sends gifts throughout the world to needy children.
We choose three shoeboxes, fill them with gifts, and take them to a distribution center during collection week. Since we are able to choose the gender and age range of the child we believe would enjoy our gifts most, we allow our children to choose the same gender and age they are currently.
Our kids have a great time choosing items they not only would love to have but also the necessities that are sometimes taken for granted. They learn the majority of children in this world have very little and begin to appreciate their own blessings a bit more. And all of us are reminded of the importance of Hebrews 13:16, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others.”
Following Operation Christmas Child on Facebook, we’ve had the privilege of reading many heartwarming stores about the children who receive shoeboxes. The following is an example:
“At an OCC shoe box gift distribution in Ecuador, a volunteer noticed a boy who was six or seven years old. His shoes were torn and she could see his toes through the holes. His clothes were bedraggled and dirty. She wanted to make sure he got a special gift, and made plans to give him a large box, since she thought he was in so much need. Before she had a chance to find a special big box for him, the boy was handed a small box from another volunteer. When he opened it, there were two pairs of socks, a pack of crayons and a couple of toys. She went to him and asked if he would like to exchange his box for a larger one, although that is not the norm at a gift distribution. She thought, ‘He needs so much, but only got a couple of small things.’ But the boy refused to exchange his box, exclaiming: ‘I have socks, I have socks! These are my socks!’”
I want to be as wide-eyed and excited as this child is over something as simple as socks. How can I possibly capture this excitement when I have more than I even need? Giving is one way. After all, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35).
Although collection week for Operation Christmas Child is finished for the year, many other great opportunities to give still exist. I encourage you to find your favorite and give, give, give. Get the family involved. Call some friends. Start a new tradition.
Here are some suggestions:
- Volunteer at a local soup kitchen.
- Buy a toy and participate in the Toys for Tots campaign. Find a drop-off location here.
- Collect canned goods from your co-workers, church members, neighborhood, kid’s sports teams, etc. and take to a local shelter or food pantry.
- Visit someone in a nursing home that doesn’t normally receive visitors. The nurses will be able to direct you to a lonely resident.
- Adopt a family and provide gifts or Christmas dinner. Find struggling families by contacting local churches.
- Drop off gifts or treats throughout your neighborhood as a surprise. Leave on the front porch, ring the doorbell, and run away.
- Give a gift card to a frazzled department store worker.
- Send flowers to a widow.
- Take treats to those who patiently wait in the ICU waiting room.
- Adopt a soldier. Send a soldier a few gifts to enjoy while sacrificing time away from their families protecting our freedoms and defending the defenseless.
And remember to put Operation Christmas Child on your calendar for November of next year. Starting a new tradition of giving will bring blessings and excitement that sometimes get lost in the ordinary everyday life.
©2012 Connie Davis Johnson