Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday Fave: Shoebox gifts

Ever since we've been married, Dan and I have participated in our church's collection of shoebox gifts for Operation Christmas Child. We dutifully packed a shoebox full of small toys, coloring books, crayons, and a tooth brush, taped it up and dropped it off at church to be sent on its merry way.

We knew the boxes would be sent to impoverished children all over the world and for some it might be the only gift they receive at Christmas. This, of course, was heart-wrenching to me because I can't fathom any child not getting to open gifts at Christmas time. I felt good that we were helping one child in the world, but I let my potential impact rest at that.

A few Sundays ago the campaign for OCC began at our church. The congregation was encouraged to pack boxes and fill the front of the church with them. We were challenged to give generously to children we would never meet. I mentally made a note to start gathering items for the box or two we'd contribute. We then watched a short video about the project and I really began to understand what one shoebox can do.

The video showed children in a war-torn country enthusiastically opening their boxes. These children had never know peace in their country. I was amazed at the joy these children received from their shoebox gifts. One girl hugged her new dolly tightly and I was reminded of Lana clutching her dolly when she is tired or scared. A little boy grinned as he stuck a sticker on his nose, exactly the same way my daughter likes to put stickers on her nose. Kids colored in Mickey Mouse coloring books just like Lana likes to color in hers. I was at once struck with the reality that just as my daughter is a precious gift of infinite worth, so is each and every child on this earth. Every child should know they were created and are loved by an all-powerful, all-loving God. Every child should have the opportunity to know their Redeemer and learn about Jesus Christ, our true Christmas Child.

Samaritan's Purse created Operation Christmas Child because every single child is of value. I'd been participating in this ministry for years, but finally feel like I "get it" this year. I don't know where our two boxes will end up this year, but I do know that I am praying for the two children who open them and I hope they will truly know that a family in Washington thinks they're awesome and wants them to have a very Merry Christmas.

(Side note: The last day for shoebox collection at our church is Sunday, Nov. 11, but other churches have different days. Please check the OCC website for dates in your area. Also, if you pay the shipping fee online, you can actually track where your box goes. That's pretty dang cool. I didn't know that when we filled out our info, so we can't track this year, but we'll have to do it next time.)

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