Most of us would agree that helping Children in need is a high priority. Sometimes, however, we downplay our role in this process. Perhaps it’s because we don’t think we can make much of difference or that our budget isn’t big enough to make any real change. I want you to know that there is a great opportunity for you to help in a meaningful way! You can pack a shoebox. Operation Christmas Child has been operating around the world since 1970. Since inception, they have distributed almost 10 million shoeboxes to children in more than 100 countries. I want to offer you six reasons why you should participate in Operation Christmas Child this year.
1. You are helping children around the world.
Let’s start off with an obvious one. Operation Christmas Child was created to help children. Even more specifically, to give less fortunate children a taste of the giving spirit of Christmas. Many of the children who will receive a shoebox this year have no concept of the commercialized Christmas we experience in North America. These children will simply open a small box of loved-packed toys, hygiene items, school supplies and other small blessings. These items not only bless children physically, but also bless them emotionally and socially as they quickly realize that there are people in this world that care about them.
2. You will partner with an organization who cares.
Samaritan’s Purse, the organization behind Operation Christmas Child, is a non-denominational evangelical Christian organization that has been meeting needs around the world since 1973.1 In 2014 alone, their efforts included providing over 76,000 households with Ebola infection prevention kits in Liberia and sending 60,000 shoebox gifts to ISIS-fleeing refugees in Iraq. They also responded to disasters all over the world – helping 50,000 families in Nepal, 4,000 families in the Congo, and even relief for 800 flood victims in High River, Canada.2 While this is a Christian organization, and they care about the spiritual health of those they help, their primary concern has been meeting the needs around them. Their finances prove this even further – 91% of their expenditures are directly related to their ministries.3 By participating in Operation Christmas Child, you’ll get to partner with this great organization.
3. You will bring unity within your family, group or work place.
Nothing else brings people together like helping others. Whether you pack a shoebox as a family, group or work place, this project is guaranteed to bring you all closer together. Families can include their children in the process of picking out items, groups can create a team project, and work places can pool resources to see how many shoeboxes they can pack. The possibilities are endless.
Consider taking a photo of everyone who helped pack the box and place it inside the shoebox. I’ve been told, by someone who handed out boxes to children overseas, that the children who receive photos are so grateful and overwhelmed to see the people who care about them.
4. You will teach your children how to give.
In a consumeristic world of want, want, want, get, get, get, Operation Christmas Child has the potential of teaching our children what it actually means to give. Not only will children experience giving a gift to a child in need, they also get to experience giving, without expecting something in return. It’s truly a selfless act that our society doesn’t usually promote.
Operation Christmas Child also teaches children the blessings they have. No matter our economic situation in North America, we are beyond blessed when compared with many of the children who will receive a shoebox. This project helps children have a deep appreciation for what they have and hopefully heightens their responsibility to help others.
5. You will be challenged to give.
Every year I’m challenged to do more. Whether it’s to pack one more shoebox, volunteer my time with a local collection centre, or give an extra monetary donation to help the organization go further, this project challenges me every year. Don’t think for a minute that learning how to give is only for children!
My wife had a great idea one year. Instead of giving a regular gift to our family members, we packed everyone a shoebox full of smaller items (some needs, some wants). For one thing, it was refreshing to scale things down for a change, but, more importantly, it helped us to focus on family and the real meaning of Christmas – Jesus, who is God’s selfless gift to us.
6. You will provide avenues of real transformation and hope.
Now that Operation Christmas Child has been in existence for a while, we are seeing real proof of transformation. That transformation results in hope for many others. Khin Khin shares a testimony of how she received a shoebox while living in a New Delhi refugee camp. Years later, she’s living in Winnipeg, Canada where she helps pack shoeboxes to help bring hope to many more!
“Receiving the shoebox made me realize how a Christian should give for others,” she says. “Some children might not have people who care for them, so for them, it’s encouragement to know they still have other people who care for them and that God is always there for them when they don’t have anybody else.”4
Check out her story here:
In 2014, Canadians packed over 660,000 shoeboxes! 35,000 of those came from here, in Newfoundland, alone! Let’s partner together and reach new heights in 2015! Samaritans Purse is challenging Canada to collect 710,000 this year! That’s only a 7.5% increase. If we do our part in Newfoundland, we’ll need to collect 37,625 this year! We can do it together!
By packing a shoebox we can join together to help kids around world, remind ourselves about giving, and help provide avenues of real transformation and hope!
Find a collection center near you…
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|⇑1||“What Is Samaritans Purse?” Samaritans Purse International, (accessed September 12, 2015) http://www.samaritanspurse.ca/what-is-samaritans-purse/.|
|⇑2||“2014-2015 Ministry Report,” Samaritan’s Purse International, http://media.samaritan.ca/doc/annual-ministry-reports/Samaritans-Purse-2014-Ministry-Report.pdf, 6, 8-10.|
|⇑4||“Khin Khin Receives An Operation Christmas Child Shoebox,” Samaritans Purse International, (accessed September 12, 2015) http://www.samaritanspurse.ca/rss/operation-christmas-child/impact/operation-christmas-child-impact-story_khin-khin.aspx#.VfOPlBFVhBc.|