Filling a shoebox to send somewhere around the world as a symbol of God’s love has been a tradition in our home now for several years. There is just something genuinely joyful about buying things to go in a shoebox that will be divinely directed to the one child who is guaranteed to love what you’ve picked out! We’ve always included things like soap, washcloth, toothbrush and comb, which aren’t so exciting. Then we look for fun items: soft huggable stuffed animals, art supplies, harmonicas, friction cars, mini etch-a-sketches, slinkies; toys that will hopefully offer long-term play and never require a battery.
This was the first year that we have been invited to an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Packing Party. We had a blast! The event was organized by a member of The Daughter’s American Heritage Girl troop who is working on the Harriet Tubman Level Award requirements. She teamed up with the local Operation Christmas Child of Hampton Roads so they were able to supply the signature red and green “shoe boxes” to fold up, and coloring sheet/letter pages for the girls to fill out to personalize their gifts, and informational videos. We were asked to bring “bigger gifts” for the boxes we planned to fill, and some school supplies and hard candy to share for all the boxes.
A fun time was had by all! The short videos showed the kids receiving their gifts (tissues please!), how to pack a shoebox, and what happens when they receive their gift.
The children who receive an OCC shoebox are told the story of Jesus, then they receive their gift, and then they are invited to attend a 12 lesson Discipleship program with materials in their native language called The Greatest Journey. When they complete the lessons they receive a Bible also printed in their native language. Find out more about The Greatest Journey.
Here in America we can look at this and wonder, “Is it really that simple?” The truth is we are so jaded. We just don’t understand the power of a small gift as a symbol of the perfect gift in the hands of a child who has never, ever, received a gift.
The daughter was quite serious about packing carefully, and writing to the girls aged 10-14 who will receive her boxes. After filling boxes, the kids were ready to relax with a special Veggie Tales video and heavenly smelling popcorn. To close the party, all the participants joined hands, gathered in a circle and prayed over the boxes and “all the children” and the whole Operation Christmas Child team. And Chik-Fil-A provided coupons for a free chocolate chunk cookie! (We redeemed our coupon on the way home!)
This year the 100 Millionth shoebox was filled! If the boxes were stacked up they would exceed the height of the Empire State Building 26,000 times. Not quite to heaven! But getting closer every year!
It’s not too late to share the love of Christ with a child on the other side of the world. It’s as easy as filling a shoebox! Find out more here.