One of my favourite things about this time of year is all of the ways in which we are able to give back. I know that there are opportunities to give all year, and we do to various organizations, people, missions that we want to support, but at Christmas, there’s just a few really special projects.
I think my very favourite of all is Operation Christmas Child. You know, the shoeboxes? What started as a relatively small project has become a phenomenon and we love being a part of it.
In a nutshell this is how it works. You get a shoebox. You fill it with toys, soap, art supplies and so on. You package it up, include a donation for shipping costs and samaritans purse distributes them to children who would otherwise be getting a big fat nothing this christmas or ever, really. This year, 2012, they will collect their one millionth shoe box. One million! That’s one million kids in this world who have received a gift. One million smiles. One million messages of Jesus love going out. Amazing, right?
So we do this regularly but with our family we decided to do it a bit different this year. Meaning, each family member does it on their own. No mama buying all the stuff. No mama packing it up. No mama making the donation. If you wanted to be a part of it (and they all did!) then they had to do it. Of course I drove to the store.
It’s not that I’m not capable. Or that I don’t want to even. It’s just about teaching what we preach. We talk a lot about generosity and giving of what we have been blessed with. We talk about how none of it is ours anyways, it’s God’s. He’s chosen for us to have and so we need to choose what we do with what we have. I think it’s important to give our kids the opportunity to put these words that they hear into action. To watch us do it and to be able to do it themselves.
So everyone chose the gender and age of the child they were buying for. Filled their basket at the store with what they wanted to send. Packed their box. Put the shipping cost money inside. And most importantly, will remember to take it to church on sunday! (Our church just happens to be a collection centre.)
I really wanted them to feel it. To have to choose things, take the time, give up some of their allowance. I wanted them to feel the joy of giving of themselves. Not just giving of mama! I think it really changed things for them. Each of them wanted to include a picture of them packing the box in with it so that the child could see who it came from. Not for praise or thanks. But to connect. To show the receiving children that there were children on the other side of the world packing this just for them – and this is what they look like! I thought it was a great idea.
It’s still not to late if you want to be a part of this. You can find more information here. Read the stories. Watch the video. See the excitement. I can’t watch it without tears a’flowin’. My kids are spoiled rotten. They have everything they could ever need. These kids get this little shoebox and feel so loved. You can see it. You can also pack a shoebox online if you don’t have the time to shop. Info on that here.
Don’t forget this is collection week so if you haven’t already – get on it! And get your boxes in! The kids will be so glad you did.