Every November, our family looks forward to a tradition that I feel has the true spirit of Christmas written all over it. Many churches in the area, ours included, help participate in something called Operation Christmas Child, sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical Christian humanitarian organization that provides aid to people in physical need as a key part of Christian missionary work. You can read more about their amazing efforts here.
The concept is simple. You take as many shoeboxes as you like home with you, fill them with small toys, letters, and personal hygiene essential items (i.e. toothbrush, bar soap, hairbrush, etc.) and then return them to church, so that they may be sent around the world to children who would otherwise not receive anything for Christmas.
My three children each take a box and can choose whether or not they’d like to buy for a boy or girl and in what age range. We take a trip to the Dollar Store or Wal-Mart and are each given $5 to choose “fun” items for their boxes. Then we also pick out some essential items like a washcloth, toothbrush, comb, bar soap, etc.
Blesses children with joy, hope, and love.
These shoeboxes are often the first gift many children have ever received! The treasures and personal letters inside communicate that someone cares for them and give them an opportunity to experience the love of God.
In the hands of local churches, every gift-filled shoebox is a powerful tool for evangelism and discipleship—transforming the lives of children and their families around the world through the Good News of Jesus Christ!
Shares the Good News of Jesus Christ.
As shoebox gifts are distributed, local pastors or church leaders present the Gospel in a fun way designed for kids while family and friends listen in. Along with their shoebox gift, children also receive The Greatest Gift, a colorful presentation of the Gospel in their own language.
Makes disciples through the local church.
After receiving shoebox gifts, boys and girls are invited to enroll in The Greatest Journey, a 12-lesson discipleship program. They learn from trained local volunteers what it means to faithfully follow Christ and share their faith with others.
Multiplies as children share their faith with friends and family.
Even before The Greatest Journey course is over, students begin witnessing to others. Then at graduation, the Gospel is shared with their friends and family again. The graduates also receive a New Testament to use personally and in communicating their faith to others.
My kids LOVE this tradition that we have been doing for years now. And I LOVE that it is teaching them that it is so much greater to give than it is to receive, this time of year especially. It helps them realize just how
spoiled blessed they are. And just how little others truly have in comparison. It’s a perfect way to kick off the Christmas season.
If you’d still like to participate in packing a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child, you can! National Collection Week is going on now! Just find a drop off location near you or go online at www.samaritanspurse.org.