Helping in the Harvest: Operation Christmas Child
One late fall afternoon, my brother stumbled upon something in a ditch on the side of the road. He thought it was just a piece of trash, but took a closer look anyway. As he picked it up, he got a real thrill. It wasn’t just a piece of trash, but a $20 bill!
About that time, our family was getting ready to do one of our favorite traditions- packing a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child. Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, works to bring joy and the good news of Jesus to needy children all over the world. To do this, volunteers pack empty shoeboxes full of new toys and treats for children who might not otherwise get a Christmas gift.
Usually, everyone in my family will pitch in money and we’ll pack a shoebox together. This year, my brother had another idea. He decided to use the $20 he had found to pack another shoebox full of goodies. My family had fun picking out things for both shoeboxes. We picked out coloring books, crayons, pencils, toothbrushes, soap, dolls, stuffed animals, toy cars, bouncy balls, lollipops, yo-yos and any other thing else we could afford.
When we got home, we packed everything in our 2 designated shoeboxes. After we wrapped and labeled each one (marking what age and gender child the toys inside were best for), we added a little note wishing the child who received each box a “Merry Christmas”. Before we dropped them off at one of the drop-off locations, we prayed over the boxes, the workers who would deliver them, and the children who would receive them.
I love my family’s tradition of giving to others during what is sometimes the most selfish time of the year. Sometimes I get focused only on what I want for Christmas this time of year, but packing a shoebox for a child, who might have never received a gift before, puts things into perspective. Remembering that for a child, receiving a shoebox is often the first step for them to come to know God really takes the focus off of myself and puts it on the One whom Christmas is really about.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.”
How to Help
This year, Operation Christmas Child’s National Collection week is
To find a drop-off location for your shoebox, go to:
GiveWhat better way to give than by packing a shoebox for a child in need? You could pack a box with your family or friends, or get really creative and throw a shoebox-packing party! Follow the guidelines to packing a shoebox at: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/OCC/Pack_A_Shoe_Box/
Packing a shoebox isn’t the only way to give. You can help spread the word about Operation Christmas Child or go to https://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/Giving/Project_Donations/ to donate to Operation Christmas Child or other ministries of Samaritan’s Purse.
PrayThis is a great way to help if you don’t pack a shoebox- or even if you do. You can pray especially for the workers who travel and work hard to get the boxes into the hands of children, and for the children themselves. If you want to be really involved, go to http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/OCC/1khours and pledge your prayers for Operation Christmas Child by choosing a day and time slot to pray during National Collection week. To find additional prayer requests go to: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/Pray/pray_occ
Narnia FansJust like in Narnia, where it was always winter and they didn’t have Christmas until Aslan came; there are children in our world who never have the joy of Christmas until they have the love of Jesus. They are shown Christ’s love when the gift of a lovingly packed shoebox comes to them. Operation Christmas Child is partnering with The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader to encourage Narnia Fans to fill shoeboxes and make a difference in the lives of impoverished children around the world. Check out Operation Narnia at http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/articles/operation_narnia/
“Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”