My favorite time of year has arrived. Football season is in full swing. College basketball is gearing up. The air is turning crisp. The leaves are turning. The holidays are just around the corner. That can mean only one thing: it’s shoebox time.
Every year, my family packs shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. A ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, OCC works like this: individuals, families, churches, and groups fill empty shoeboxes with gifts of toys, school supplies, clothing, hygiene items, and notes of encouragement. The boxes are collected and delivered to needy children around the world. Since 1993 Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 168 million shoeboxes to children in over 160 countries and territories. Many who receive shoeboxes have the opportunity to hear the gospel and are invited to enroll in The Greatest Journey, a 12-lesson discipleship program. Since 2010, more than 14 million children who received a shoebox have participated in this program and have learned what it means to follow Jesus.
We choose to participate in Operation Christmas Child AS A FAMILY. Our 10-year-old daughter is involved in every phase: buying the items, packing the boxes, and dropping them off at the collection center. There are 5 reasons we make this a family event.
1. We want our daughter to discover the joy of giving.
A child’s inclination is to think first about getting. Ours is already making her Christmas list, and it grows longer by the day. As her parents, we are intentional about teaching her the joy of giving. I recommend you go to samaritanspurse.org/occ and, with your child, watch the videos of children around the world receiving their OCC shoeboxes. Through watching these videos, our daughter sees with her own eyes the pure joy that her giving brings to others, and it delights her.
2. We want our daughter to understand that the world doesn’t revolve around her.
We’re not doing our kids any favors by leading them to think the world revolves around them. To combat the sense of entitlement that our culture drives into her brain daily, we work to raise a child who is genuinely grateful for whatever she has. Shoeboxes help us reinforce this.
3. We want to foster in our daughter an empathy toward the poor.
In our household we talk to our daughter about what it means to be poor. As we look together at pictures of children living in poverty we talk about what their lives are like and how those kids must feel. We do to foster compassion and so she can have perspective on her first world problems.
4. We want our daughter to learn that little things can have a big impact.
We want her to realize that you don’t have to do great big things to make a difference in somebody’s life. Even the smallest acts of kindness can have an eternal impact. A small shoebox can be a part of changing children’s lives all over the world.
5. We want our daughter to know that we give because God gave.
Shoeboxes are a great opportunity to demonstrate God’s love to children around the world, they’re also a great way to teach our child about the love of God. As we pack our boxes we reinforce the truth that we give because God gave. We love because God loves us. We share to follow the example of Jesus by helping those in need and proclaiming the hope that is in the gospel.
How many boxes is your family packing this year? To learn more go to samaritanspurse.org/occ.